These classic stuffed shells are filled with a creamy 4-cheese blend with Italian seasonings, sautéed garlic, and the optional addition of spinach. This meal is also make-ahead and freezer friendly!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Boil shells in salted water for 1 minute less than al dente, set a timer to avoid overcooking them. Drain once cooked and gently rinse with cold water until the water on the bottom comes out cool. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. (Optional: Slice the spinach into strips before cooking it if smaller pieces are preferred.)Add the spinach and toss to coat. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Set aside and let cool.
Place the ricotta in a large bowl and add the seasonings. Use a silicone spatula to stir to combine. Add half of the mozzarella cheese and most of the Parmesan, but reserve a little Parmesan to sprinkle over the top before baking. Add the cream cheese and the egg and stir to combine. Fold in the cooled spinach and garlic.
Add half of the marinara sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish (or a round 12-inch oven-safe skillet) Use a spoon to fill each pasta shell with the cheese mixture and place it in the baking dish.
Add the remaining marinara sauce, then top with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan.
Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 10 more minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with Garlic Bread with Cheese!
- Boil extra shells in case some break during the boiling or draining process.
- The spinach is optional but adds a nice touch! Frozen spinach may also be used, be sure to let it thaw and pat it dry.
- Shred the cheese from a block instead of using packaged shredded cheese. It will melt and taste much better.
- Low moisture whole milk mozzarella melts the best in this recipe.
- I love to use Dragone for the mozzarella, BelGioioso for the Parmesan, and Philadelphia for the cream cheese.
- Rao's is my go-to brand for marinara sauce, (it's really good)!
- This recipe makes about 18 shells and has 6 servings. Nutritional facts are based on 3 shells per person.
Make Ahead Method:
- Assemble and refrigerate up to 1 day ahead of time. Add 10 minutes to covered baking time.
- Assemble and freeze, bake from frozen and add 35 minutes to covered baking time. Or, let thaw in the fridge and add 10 minutes to covered baking time.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Calories: 496kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 119mg, Sodium: 1376mg, Potassium: 694mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 3234IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 584mg, Iron: 3mg