I take every opportunity I get to stuff, melt, drizzle, and sprinkle cheese in my dishes. So when I get to stuff and melt cheese in these spinach, pesto & cheese stuffed shells, I am a happy camper.
These shells are overflowing with flavor. Simple frozen chopped spinach, delicious herby pesto, and ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses make it the beauty that it is. If that doesn't sound heavenly to you, then honestly we can't be friends (jk, but really).
So, if you're looking for a cozy and easy weeknight meal, this is it. Working time is about just as long as it takes for pasta to cook, then you put it in the oven and let it get all melty and beautiful while you chill on the couch and drink a glass of wine. The smells start to fill your kitchen, and shortly thereafter, the flavors fill your stomach.
I tend to prefer these spinach, pesto & cheese stuffed shells on the vegetarian side as is, but if you'd like to sauté some ground chicken or beef and mix it into the cheese mixture, by all means! You just likely need to make a larger hole in the bag when filling the shells.
Spinach, Pesto, and Cheese Stuffed Shells
- 10 oz frozen chopped spinach
- 15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoon pesto homemade or store-bought, separated
- 1 large egg
- Pinch of salt & pepper
- 6 oz jumbo shell pasta
- 1 jar marinara sauce
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese torn
- Optional: fresh basil for serving
- Preheat your oven to 350℉.
- Cook the shells in salted water until al-dente, then strain.
- Thaw the frozen spinach (I usually put it in a strainer and run warm water over it) and squeeze it until it's mostly dry.
- In a large bowl, combine the thawed spinach, ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, 1 tablespoon pesto, egg, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Put the mixture in a zip-top bag with about ½ an inch cut off the corner to make a piping bag.
- In a 9x13in oven-space dish, pour about ⅓ of the marinara sauce. Using the piping bag, fill each shell with the cheese mixture and place into the dish.
- Top the filled shells with the remaining tomato sauce. Dot with torn mozzarella cheese and 1 tablespoon pesto.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately with fresh basil (if desired).