Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Thursday 28 October 2021

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

 I confess I have a certain penchant for pasta.  In any way shape or form. I have been known to just sit and eat a bowl of buttered spaghetti with just salt and pepper and thoroughly enjoy it.

Yes, I am that much of a glutton when it comes to pasta.  I have never met a pasta dish that I did not love.  Its so nice to now be able to enjoy pasta whenever I want, however I want and not to have to worry about anyone else not liking it.

That is one of the bonus's of living on your own.  You get to cook what you want, when you want.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

The downside of living on your own as I do, is that, unless you want to exist on single serve frozen dinners (and I DON'T) you need to small-batch everything into smaller quantities.

I have done that today with this delicious recipe for Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells.  It makes only 5 servings (which is plenty) rather than the original 10 servings.  

This is just enough for me to enjoy on the day along with a bit leftover for the next day, plus I can freeze some for the future. Win. Win. WIN!

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

It may be smaller in size and servings, but it lacks none of the deliciousness of the full sized recipe, I can promise you that. It is every bit as rich and delicious.

Made with a trio of delicious cheeses, and a tasty marinara sauce, it is every bit as hearty and rich as the larger version. More than one or two of you in the family?  Just double up on everything. Easy peasy!

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells


One of the things I love most about this is the simplicity of ingredients. You can go as complicated as you like or have time for by making a marinara sauce from scratch, or keep it simple with a store brand ready made.
  • large pasta shells
  • spinach, fresh or frozen
  • 1 small egg (or you can use one large egg yolk)
  • garlic
  • ricotta cheese
  • mozarella cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • marinara sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • basil
  • oregano or thyme

I have used fresh herbs today for the basil and the thyme, but you can also use dried. If you are using dried, cut the amounts in half. I also have used full fat cheeses. In for a penny in for a pound.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells 
I am not a person who likes meat much with my pasta, well ground meat anyways. If you are keen you can add a quantity of browned ground beef to the marinara sauce.

I haven't enjoyed meat with my pasta that much since I was a child. My mom always bought cheap ground beef. It was always full of chewy bits, gristle and sometimes even bone.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

That only had to touch my teeth and I was gagging.  Its a texture thing really. 

Nowadays I do occasionally eat it with meat, but only when I can personally control the quality of the meat used. Yes, I am a spoilt brat. 

As a child I was an expert at digging every speck of meat out from ever hole in the pasta. At the end of the meal, there would be a little pile of it at the edge of my plate.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Nothing could be easier or more satisfying than this simple dish. You will need to begin by cooking your pasta shells. Just follow the directions on the package of pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, you can get busy with making the cheese filling.  Just measure what you need for the filling into a bowl.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells 
This includes the egg, some of the mozzarella (a portion is reserved for the top), the ricotta cheese, the parmesan, the garlic, and the herbs.  You will also be stirring in the spinach.

You can either use the fresh spinach steamed and chopped, or thawed frozen spinach chopped. In either case you want to squeeze as much water out of it as you can or you risk a watery filling.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells 
I squeeze as much water out as I can with my hands, and then I use some paper towels or a clean tea-towel to squeeze out the rest. Be warned you don't want to use your best towel as the spinach will color it green.

You just want the spinach to be as dry as you can get it. I find using a pair of kitchen scissors the handiest tool to use when it comes to chopping it up finely.  Just pop it into a bowl and chop away.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Once you have the cheese filling made, you just divide it between the cooked shells (about 2 TBS each) and then pop the filled shells, filled side up, into your prepared baking dish.  I like to spoon a portion of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish first.

Once you have your filled shells in the dish, you can spoon the remaining marinara sauce over top, and then scatter on the remaining mozarella.

Cover tightly with a sheet of buttered foil (butter side down) and bake. That's it. I like to remove the foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking.  

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells 

The end result is rich and delicious. You will find three stuffed shells more than ample to serve per person.

I salad on the side and maybe some garlic bread and you have a meal fit for a king.  This is really very, very good.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells 

If you want, you can stuff the shells ahead of time and have the casserole covered and waiting in the refrigerator, ready to take out and bake when you are ready to cook supper.  I like to let it sit at room temperature for about half an hour in that case.

If you have frozen some, simply thaw in the refrigerator over night and then cook as below.  I have a confession here to make.  The leftovers are delicious, chopped up and fried in butter the next day with a bit of parmesan cheese sprinkled on top to serve.

Yes, I am a glutton through and through.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Yield: 5
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 25 MinCook time: 40 MinTotal time: 1 H & 4 M
This is a small batch recipe which gives just enough for two to three people with some leftovers for the day afterwards. The original recipe made 10 servings. Much too much for me. This is quite simply delicious!


  • 15 jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to directions listed on package
  • 8 ounces (225g) fresh spinach, steamed just until wilted, squeezed dry with paper towels and chopped (See notes)
  • 8 oz (225g) ricotta cheese
  • 1 small free range egg
  • 1 1/2 TBS chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano or thyme
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cups (175g) mozzarella cheese, grated, divided
  • 1/2 cup (90g)parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 400g)marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • red pepper flakes, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 375*F/190*C/ gas mark 5. Blend together the Ricotta cheese and egg in a bowl. (A fork works well to do this). Stir in basil, thyme and garlic.
  2. Add 1 cup (55g) mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese and toss mixture to combine. Mix in prepared spinach. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spread 1/3 cup (80g) of the marinara sauce into an even layer along bottom of a 8 by 7-inch baking dish (or similar size casserole dish). Divide cheese mixture among cooked pasta shells, stuffing each shell full with about 2 TBS. of the cheese mixture.
  4. Place the shells in the baking dish, open sides up.
  5. Stir red pepper flakes to taste into marinara sauce if desired. Cover shells evenly with remaining marinara sauce then sprinkle tops evenly with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  6. Cover baking dish with a sheet of buttered aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer. Serve warm.


If desired you can use frozen thawed spinach instead of fresh steamed. Dry it well by squeezing it with several layers of paper towels. Chop and use as above.

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Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells
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  1. This looks delicious, Marie. I wanted to make lasagna soon but I think I'll make these instead. Just have to get some cheese. Enjoy your day. Love and hugs, Elaine

    1. I hope you and Larry enjoy these Elaine! Love and hugs, xoxo

  2. It's been ages since I made this. Time to revisit it, I think. We love pasta as well, so it's always a welcome meal. *adds ricotta to shopping list*

    1. Yay Marie. You and Lars sure eat well! I bet he thinks his wife is one of the best cooks around! An accolade well deserved I would say! xoxo

  3. Being Italian I cut my teeth on pastina with butter. I'm with you on meat in sauce. I can't do it. I'll pick the meat out of the lasagna layers. When my mom made goulash it was torture. Mind you I grew up in the era when you ate what mom made or went to bed. No exceptions. I'm excited to try your recipe since I live alone and it's "just enough" of a freezer dinner for another night.

    1. Mmm...Pastina with butter. I grew up in the same era! I hope you enjoy this! xoxo

  4. It looks delicious, Marie. A perfect meal for a brisk, rainy day....or any time!

  5. I belong to that facebook group as well Becky, but hardly ever look at it. I need to! I have thought of making a blog totally dedicated to smaller recipes, but I have a hard enough time keeping up with this and the other blog! You never know however, one day! xoxo


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