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Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe

This ricotta stuffed shells recipe is an exquisite blend of creamy ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan, tucked into pasta shells and baked to perfection. It's a delightful dish that brings a touch of Italian cuisine to your home kitchen. Ideal for gatherings or a cozy family dinner, this dish is sure to impress.

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The key ingredients in this recipe are jumbo pasta shells and ricotta cheese. Jumbo pasta shells might not be a regular item in your pantry but can be easily found in the pasta aisle of most supermarkets. They act as the perfect vessel for the ricotta filling. As for the ricotta cheese, it is a creamy, mild cheese that can be found in the dairy or cheese section. If you're unable to find it, a good substitute could be cottage cheese.

Ingredients for Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Jumbo pasta shells: These large pasta shells are the star of this recipe, acting as little boats for the rich and creamy ricotta filling.

Ricotta cheese: A creamy, mild Italian cheese that provides the body of the filling.

Garlic: Adding a bit of punch to the filling, garlic brings out the flavors of the other ingredients.

Mozzarella cheese: This cheese adds a delightful stretchiness and gooeyness to the filling.

Parmesan cheese: A hard Italian cheese that brings a salty, umami flavor to the dish.

Dried herbs (parsley, basil, oregano): These herbs provide an aromatic backdrop to the cheese and pasta.

Salt and pepper: Basic seasonings that enhance the overall flavor of the dish.

Marinara sauce: A rich tomato-based sauce that complements the cheese-filled pasta shells.

One reader, Kirsti Ng says:

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This ricotta stuffed shells recipe is a game-changer! The combination of creamy ricotta, savory garlic, and aromatic herbs is simply divine. The shells are perfectly tender, and the marinara sauce adds a delightful touch. It's a crowd-pleaser and has become a family favorite in no time!

Kirsti Ng

Key Techniques for Preparing Ricotta Stuffed Shells

How to cook the pasta shells: Boil a pot of water and add the shells, cooking them for 1 minute less than the package instructions.

How to mix the filling: In a large bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta, garlic, mozzarella, half of the parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, mixing well to form the filling.

How to stuff the shells: Spoon the ricotta mixture into the cooked pasta shells and place them in a 9x13-inch baking dish.

How to bake the stuffed shells: Top the stuffed shells with marinara sauce and bake them in a preheated oven at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes.

How to garnish: After baking, garnish the stuffed shells with the remaining parmesan cheese if desired.

How To Make Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Pasta shells stuffed with garlicky ricotta served in homemade marinara sauce. This ricotta stuffed shells recipe is a delightful weeknight dinner.

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 12ozjumbo pasta shellsdried
  • 2large eggsbeaten
  • 32ozricotta cheese
  • 2clovesgarlicminced
  • 2cupmozzarella cheeseshredded
  • 8ozparmesan cheeseshredded, divided
  • 1tspdried parsley
  • ½tspdried basil
  • ½tspdried oregano
  • 1tspkosher salt
  • ½tspblack peppercoarsely ground
  • 3cupsmarinara sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the shells and cook for 1 minute shy of the directions on the box.

  3. To a large bowl, add the eggs, ricotta, garlic, mozzarella, half the parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

  4. Mix the ingredients well.

  5. Spoon the mixture into the shells and put them in a 9×13-inch baking dish.

  6. Top with marinara sauce and bake.

  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

  8. Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 988.29kcal
  • Fat: 55.15g
  • Saturated Fat: 33.13g
  • Trans Fat: 0.01g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 15.62g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.79g
  • Carbohydrates: 60.96g
  • Fiber: 4.35g
  • Sugar: 10.44g
  • Protein: 60.73g
  • Cholesterol: 244.55mg
  • Sodium: 1842.97mg
  • Calcium: 1321.97mg
  • Potassium: 841.06mg
  • Iron: 3.26mg
  • Vitamin A: 500.80µg
  • Vitamin C: 3.06mg

Helpful Technique for Preparing Ricotta Stuffed Shells

To ensure your ricotta stuffing is evenly distributed and doesn't spill out during baking, use a small spoon or a piping bag to fill your pasta shells. If you're using a spoon, gently open the shell with one hand and spoon the mixture in with the other. If you're using a piping bag, cut the tip to the size of the shell opening and pipe the mixture in. This will give you more control over the amount of filling and keep your shells intact.

Time-Saving Tips for Making This Recipe

Prep ahead: Prepare the filling and sauce a day in advance to save time on the day of cooking.

Use a piping bag: Fill the shells using a piping bag to speed up the process and ensure even distribution of the filling.

Bake in batches: If you have a large batch, bake the stuffed shells in multiple smaller dishes to reduce cooking time.

Freeze for later: Make a double batch and freeze half for a quick and easy meal another day.

Organize your workspace: Set up your ingredients and tools in an organized manner to streamline the cooking process.

Use a food processor: Use a food processor to quickly blend the filling ingredients together for a smooth and consistent texture.

Pre-shredded cheese: Save time by using pre-shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese for the filling.

Cook the shells in advance: Cook the pasta shells ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Substitute Ingredients For Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe

  • ricotta cheese - Substitute with cottage cheese: Cottage cheese has a similar texture and can be used as a substitute for ricotta in stuffed shells. It has a slightly tangier flavor, but it works well in this recipe.

  • jumbo pasta shells - Substitute with large conchiglie pasta: Large conchiglie pasta can be used as a substitute for jumbo pasta shells. They have a similar shape and are suitable for stuffing.

  • mozzarella cheese - Substitute with provolone cheese: Provolone cheese can be used as a substitute for mozzarella in this recipe. It has a mild flavor and melts well, making it a good alternative.

  • parmesan cheese - Substitute with pecorino romano cheese: Pecorino Romano cheese can be used as a substitute for parmesan. It has a similar salty and nutty flavor, which complements the dish.

  • marinara sauce - Substitute with tomato sauce with Italian seasoning: Tomato sauce with Italian seasoning can be used as a substitute for marinara sauce. It provides a similar flavor profile and works well in the recipe.

Presentation Ideas for Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the ricotta stuffed shells, focus on creating an elegant and visually appealing presentation. Use a large, white, or neutral-colored plate to allow the vibrant colors of the dish to pop. Arrange the stuffed shells in a deliberate and artistic manner, ensuring each shell is showcased beautifully.

  2. Garnish with fresh herbs: Add a touch of freshness and color to the dish by garnishing with freshly chopped basil or parsley. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also adds a burst of flavor and aroma to the overall presentation.

  3. Drizzle with olive oil: Prior to serving, delicately drizzle a high-quality olive oil over the stuffed shells. This not only adds a glossy sheen to the dish but also imparts a subtle richness and depth of flavor.

  4. Sprinkle with microgreens: For a sophisticated touch, sprinkle a few delicate microgreens over the stuffed shells. The vibrant green hues and delicate textures of the microgreens will add a refined and gourmet element to the presentation.

  5. Accompany with a balsamic reduction: Create a decorative swirl of balsamic reduction on the plate to add a touch of elegance and elevate the overall visual appeal of the dish. The rich, dark drizzle will complement the flavors of the stuffed shells and add a gourmet flair to the presentation.

Essential Tools for Making Stuffed Shells

  • Large pot: Use a large pot for boiling the pasta shells.

  • Mixing bowl: A large mixing bowl is needed to combine the eggs, ricotta, garlic, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and seasonings.

  • 9x13-inch baking dish: This baking dish is used to arrange the stuffed shells and bake them.

  • Spoon: A spoon is required to fill the pasta shells with the ricotta mixture.

  • Oven: The oven is used to bake the stuffed shells at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Cooking pot: A cooking pot is needed to boil the pasta shells.

  • Grater: A grater is used to grate the parmesan cheese for the recipe.

  • Measuring cups and spoons: These are essential for accurately measuring the ingredients for the recipe.

  • Baking sheet: A baking sheet may be used to catch any drips or spills while baking the stuffed shells.

  • Knife: A knife is used to mince the garlic for the ricotta mixture.

  • Saucepan: A saucepan may be used to heat the marinara sauce before topping the stuffed shells.

Storage and Freezing Instructions for Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  • Once the ricotta stuffed shells have cooled completely, transfer them to an airtight container or wrap the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

  • To freeze the stuffed shells, arrange them in a freezer-safe container or baking dish, making sure they are not touching each other. Cover the container or dish with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Label the container with the date and contents.

  • Alternatively, you can freeze the stuffed shells individually. Place the cooled shells on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer the shells to a freezer-safe bag or container, removing as much air as possible before sealing. This method allows you to thaw and reheat only the desired number of shells.

  • Ricotta stuffed shells can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. When ready to eat, thaw the shells overnight in the refrigerator and then bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) until heated through, about 20-30 minutes. If baking from frozen, increase the baking time to 45-60 minutes, covering the dish with foil if the tops begin to brown too quickly.

  • To maintain the best quality and texture, avoid freezing the stuffed shells with the marinara sauce. Instead, freeze the shells separately and add the sauce when reheating. This prevents the shells from becoming soggy during the thawing and reheating process.

How To Reheat Leftover Stuffed Shells

Here are the best methods for reheating leftover ricotta stuffed shells:

  • Oven method: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the leftover shells in an oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. For a crispy top, remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of reheating. This method ensures even heating and helps maintain the texture of the pasta and cheese filling.

  • Microwave method: If you're short on time, the microwave is a quick option. Place the shells in a microwave-safe dish and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Stir the shells halfway through the reheating process to ensure even heating. Keep in mind that the microwave may cause the pasta to become slightly soggy.

  • Stovetop method: Place the leftover shells in a saucepan and add a splash of water or marinara sauce to prevent them from drying out. Cover the pan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the shells are heated through. This method allows you to control the moisture content and prevent the pasta from becoming too dry.

  • Air fryer method: If you have an air fryer, you can use it to reheat your leftover shells. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C). Place the shells in the air fryer basket and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until heated through. This method is perfect for achieving a crispy exterior while maintaining a soft and cheesy interior.

Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to reheat the shells until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure food safety. Enjoy your deliciously reheated ricotta stuffed shells!

Interesting Fact About Ricotta Stuffed Shells

The recipe for ricotta stuffed shells is a delicious and comforting dish that is perfect for a family dinner. The combination of creamy ricotta, savory garlic, and flavorful herbs creates a mouthwatering filling for the jumbo pasta shells. Baked with marinara sauce and a generous sprinkle of mozzarella and parmesan cheese, these stuffed shells are a crowd-pleaser. This classic Italian dish is a great option for a cozy night in or for entertaining guests. Plus, it's a versatile recipe that can be customized with additional ingredients like spinach or ground meat for added flavor and texture.

Is This Recipe Budget-Friendly for Home Cooks?

This ricotta stuffed shells recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The main ingredients, such as pasta shells, ricotta cheese, and marinara sauce, are budget-friendly and readily available. The dish yields a generous portion, making it suitable for a family meal. The approximate cost for a household of four people would be around $15-$20, depending on the quality of ingredients. The overall verdict rating for this recipe would be 8/10, considering its affordability, ease of preparation, and delightful flavors.

Are Ricotta Stuffed Shells Healthy?

This recipe for ricotta stuffed shells is a delicious comfort food, but it's not particularly healthy. The dish is high in calories, fat, and sodium due to the large amounts of cheese and marinara sauce used. Ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses are all high in saturated fat, which can contribute to heart disease and other health issues when consumed in excess. Additionally, the marinara sauce likely contains added sugars and sodium, further increasing the overall calorie and sodium content of the dish.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Use low-fat or part-skim ricotta and mozzarella cheeses to reduce the overall fat content
  • Increase the amount of vegetables in the dish by adding spinach, zucchini, or mushrooms to the ricotta filling
  • Make your own marinara sauce using fresh tomatoes, herbs, and minimal added sugars and salt
  • Use whole wheat or vegetable-based pasta shells to increase the fiber content and nutritional value
  • Reduce the amount of cheese used in the filling and topping to decrease the calorie and fat content
  • Serve the stuffed shells with a side salad or roasted vegetables to balance out the meal and add more nutrients

Editor's Opinion on Ricotta Stuffed Shells

The ricotta stuffed shells recipe is a classic and comforting dish. The combination of creamy ricotta, savory garlic, and aromatic herbs creates a delightful filling for the jumbo pasta shells. The addition of mozzarella and parmesan cheese adds a rich and gooey texture, while the marinara sauce brings a burst of tangy flavor. This recipe is a crowd-pleaser and perfect for a cozy family dinner or entertaining guests. The dish is simple to prepare and yields impressive results, making it a go-to recipe for any occasion.

Enhance Your Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Bread: A warm and crispy garlic bread would be the perfect accompaniment to these ricotta stuffed shells. The buttery garlic flavor will complement the creamy ricotta filling.
Caesar Salad: A classic Caesar salad with crisp romaine lettuce, tangy Caesar dressing, and crunchy croutons would provide a refreshing contrast to the rich and cheesy stuffed shells.
Roasted Vegetables: Colorful and flavorful roasted vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes, would add a healthy and vibrant element to the meal. The caramelized edges of the vegetables will provide a delightful contrast to the creamy shells.
Tiramisu: For a decadent and indulgent dessert, a creamy and coffee-flavored tiramisu would be the perfect way to end the meal. The rich flavors of the tiramisu will complement the savory notes of the stuffed shells.

Delicious Alternatives to Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe

Creamy Chicken Alfredo: This creamy and indulgent pasta dish is perfect for a cozy night in. The combination of tender chicken and rich alfredo sauce will leave you wanting more.
Mango Salsa Chicken: Add a tropical twist to your chicken dinner with this flavorful mango salsa. The sweet and tangy flavors pair perfectly with the juicy chicken for a refreshing meal.
Butternut Squash Soup: Warm up with a comforting bowl of butternut squash soup. The creamy texture and earthy flavors make this soup a satisfying and nutritious option for a chilly day.
Berry Cobbler: Indulge in a sweet and fruity berry cobbler for dessert. The combination of fresh berries and buttery crumble topping creates a delightful treat that is perfect for any occasion.

Appetizers and Desserts to Complement Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Appetizers:
Stuffed Mushrooms: Sautéed mushrooms filled with a savory mixture of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs, then baked to perfection.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip: A creamy blend of spinach, artichokes, and cheese, served warm with crispy tortilla chips or toasted bread.
Desserts:
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and creamy chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. This elegant dessert is perfect for a special occasion or a decadent treat.
Strawberry Cheesecake: Savor the smooth and velvety texture of a classic strawberry cheesecake, topped with a luscious strawberry glaze and fresh sliced strawberries. This timeless dessert is sure to impress any crowd.

Why trust this Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe:

This ricotta stuffed shells recipe is a tried and true classic, offering a delightful blend of creamy ricotta, savory mozzarella, and zesty parmesan cheese. The flavorful mix of herbs and spices adds depth to the dish, while the addition of marinara sauce brings a burst of rich, tangy flavor. With meticulous attention to detail, this recipe promises a satisfying and comforting meal that will surely impress your taste buds. Trust in the wholesome ingredients and straightforward instructions to create a delectable Italian-inspired masterpiece that's perfect for any occasion.

Want to share your experience making this Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe or have any tips to perfect it? Join the discussion in the Recipe Sharing forum and let's talk about it!
FAQ:
How long does it take to cook the stuffed shells?
The stuffed shells need to bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can I use a different type of cheese instead of ricotta?
Yes, you can substitute ricotta with cottage cheese or a mixture of cottage cheese and cream cheese for a different flavor.
Can I prepare the stuffed shells ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can assemble the stuffed shells ahead of time and refrigerate them until you're ready to bake. Just make sure to add the marinara sauce right before baking.
Can I freeze the stuffed shells for later?
Yes, you can freeze the stuffed shells before baking. Just wrap the dish tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing. When you're ready to enjoy them, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then bake as directed.
How many servings does this recipe make?
This recipe makes approximately 6 to 8 servings, depending on portion size.

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