Stuffed Shells with Summer Squash and Ricotta Recipe

Stuffed shells with summer squash and ricotta is a delightful and hearty dish ideal for those warm summer evenings. The sweetness of the summer squash combined with the richness of ricotta cheese provides a beautiful contrast of flavors. Stuffed into large pasta shells and baked until bubbly, this dish is a fun and sophisticated take on classic Italian pasta dishes.

Stuffed Shells with Summer Squash and Ricotta Recipe
3
Image 1
Image 2
Image 3

Photos of Stuffed Shells with Summer Squash and Ricotta Recipe

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3

Most of the ingredients for this dish are commonly available, such as olive oil, onions, pasta shells, and marinara sauce. However, summer squash might be a seasonal item in some supermarkets so consider that when planning. The ricotta and mozzarella cheeses are usually in the dairy section. But the most unique ingredient here is Prosciutto, an Italian dry-cured ham, which can be found in the deli section of most supermarkets.

Stuffed Shells with Summer Squash and Ricotta Ingredients

Olive oil: Used for sautéing the onions and squash, and also for making the prosciutto crispies.

Sweet onion: Adds a delicate sweetness to counter the rich cheeses.

Yellow squash: Gives a light, summery flavor to the dish.

Ricotta cheese: Provides a creamy, rich base for the stuffing.

Mozzarella cheese: Melts beautifully in the oven providing a stringy texture.

Egg: Acts as a binder for the stuffing.

Pasta shells: The vessel for our delicious stuffing.

Marinara sauce: Adds a tangy contrast to the rich stuffing.

Fresh thyme: Gives an earthy flavor to the pasta.

Black pepper: Adds a slight heat to balance the flavors.

Prosciutto: Adds a salty, umami kick to the dish.

Breadcrumbs: Gives a nice crunchy texture to the topping.

One reader, Jedd Paredes says:

star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

This stuffed shells recipe was a game-changer! The combination of summer squash and ricotta was a delightful surprise. The flavors were so fresh and comforting. It's a must-try for anyone looking to impress their guests with a delicious and unique dish. I'll definitely be making this again!

Jedd Paredes

Key Techniques for Making Stuffed Shells With Summer Squash and Ricotta

How to sauté the squash and onions: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and squash and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until softened. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

How to prepare the cheese and squash mixture: In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, mozzarella, egg, and salt. Once the sautéed squash and onions are at room temperature, add them to the cheese mixture along with any oil in the skillet. Stir well.

How to cook the pasta shells: Cook the shells according to package instructions, until al dente. Be careful not to overcook the shells as they will be baked later. Once cooked, drain and let cool until they are cool enough to handle.

How to fill the shells: Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of the squash and ricotta mixture.

How to bake the stuffed shells: Spoon the rest of the marinara over the shells and dot the surface of the shells with a little extra mozzarella cheese (optional). Season the dish with fresh thyme and black pepper. Bake the shells at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes until the cheese in the filling has melted and the marinara is bubbling.

How to make prosciutto crispies (optional): Tear the prosciutto into pieces and add to a medium skillet. Cook over medium-low heat until the prosciutto starts to brown and turn crispy. Remove from the skillet and dice. Return the diced prosciutto to the skillet, add breadcrumbs and olive oil, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the breadcrumbs are brown and crispy. Remove and let cool, then sprinkle over the pasta.

How To Make Stuffed Shells with Summer Squash and Ricotta

Packed with a creamy mix of sauteed squash and cheese, these stuffed shells are baked over marinara sauce for a flavorful and filling dish.

Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 2tbspolive oil
  • ½sweet onion,diced
  • 2cupsyellow squash,chopped, (from about 2 small squash)
  • 8ozricotta cheese
  • 8ozmozzarella cheese,grated
  • 1large egg
  • ½tspsalt
  • 12ozlarge pasta shells,(about 30)
  • 2cupsmarinara sauce
  • 1tspfresh thyme
  • ½tspblack pepper

Prosciutto Crispies (Add On):

  • 3ozprosciutto
  • ¼cupbreadcrumbs
  • 1tbspolive oil

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and squash and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until softened. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

  2. In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, mozzarella, egg, and salt. When squash and onion are at room temperature, add them to the cheese mixture along with any oil in the skillet. Stir well.

  3. Cook shells according to package instructions, until al dente. Be sure not to overcook the shells or they will fall apart while baking. When shells are cooked, drain and let cool until they are cool enough to handle.

  4. Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of the squash and ricotta mixture.

  5. Place the filled shell in the baking dish. Repeat to consume all the filling or shells. This should yield about 30 shells.

  6. Spoon the rest of the marinara over the shells and dot the surface of the shells with a little extra mozzarella cheese (optional). Season the dish with fresh thyme and black pepper.

  7. Bake the shells at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes until the cheese in the filling has melted and the marinara is bubbling.

Prosciutto (Optional):

  1. Tear the prosciutto into pieces. Add to a medium skillet. Cook over medium-low heat until prosciutto starts to brown and turn crispy. Remove from skillet and dice.

  2. Return the diced prosciutto to the skillet. Add breadcrumbs and olive oil. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until breadcrumbs are brown and crispy. Remove and let cool, then sprinkle over pasta!

Recipe Notes

Leftovers: Freeze the shells before baking or freeze the leftovers. Cool them to room temperature and then seal them in a freezer-safe container. Use them within 1 to 2 months. Reheat shells in a microwave on high for 1½ to 2 minutes.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 438.51kcal
  • Fat: 19.06g
  • Saturated Fat: 8.23g
  • Trans Fat: 0.01g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 7.71g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.75g
  • Carbohydrates: 46.14g
  • Fiber: 3.47g
  • Sugar: 6.40g
  • Protein: 20.45g
  • Cholesterol: 71.70mg
  • Sodium: 827.13mg
  • Calcium: 276.13mg
  • Potassium: 574.99mg
  • Iron: 1.98mg
  • Vitamin A: 128.23µg
  • Vitamin C: 6.32mg

Helpful Technique for Preparing Stuffed Shells With Summer Squash and Ricotta

When preparing the pasta shells, it's crucial to cook them until they're al dente. This means they should still have a bit of a bite to them and not be overly soft. Overcooking the shells can cause them to fall apart when you're filling them with the squash and ricotta mixture. To achieve this, keep a close eye on the shells while they're boiling and taste test them frequently. Once they're cooked to the desired texture, drain them immediately to stop the cooking process.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing This Stuffed Shells Recipe

Prep ahead: Chop and sauté the squash and onion a day in advance. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Use a food processor: Use a food processor to quickly combine the ricotta, mozzarella, egg, and salt for the filling, saving time and effort.

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

Substitute Ingredients For Stuffed Shells with Summer Squash and Ricotta Recipe

  • olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil has a similar mild flavor and high smoke point, making it a suitable substitute for olive oil in this recipe.

  • yellow squash - Substitute with zucchini: Zucchini can be used as a substitute for yellow squash, as it has a similar texture and mild flavor that complements the dish.

  • ricotta cheese - Substitute with cottage cheese: Cottage cheese can be used as a substitute for ricotta cheese, providing a similar creamy texture and mild flavor.

  • mozzarella cheese - Substitute with provolone cheese: Provolone cheese can be used as a substitute for mozzarella, offering a slightly sharper flavor and good melting properties.

  • large egg - Substitute with flaxseed egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water): A flaxseed egg can be used as a vegan substitute for a regular egg in this recipe, providing binding properties.

  • marinara sauce - Substitute with tomato sauce + Italian seasoning: A combination of tomato sauce and Italian seasoning can be used as a substitute for marinara sauce, providing a similar flavor profile.

  • fresh thyme - Substitute with dried thyme: Dried thyme can be used as a substitute for fresh thyme, with a slightly more concentrated flavor, so use it sparingly.

  • prosciutto - Substitute with pancetta: Pancetta can be used as a substitute for prosciutto, providing a similar salty and savory flavor to the dish.

Presentation Tips for Stuffed Shells With Summer Squash and Ricotta

  1. Elevate the plating: Carefully arrange the stuffed shells on the plate, ensuring they are evenly spaced and visually appealing.

  2. Garnish with fresh herbs: Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley or basil over the stuffed shells to add a pop of color and freshness.

  3. Drizzle with balsamic reduction: Create a beautiful design on the plate with a drizzle of balsamic reduction to add a touch of elegance and depth of flavor.

  4. Add a touch of microgreens: Place a small cluster of delicate microgreens on top of the stuffed shells for a sophisticated and refined presentation.

  5. Use high-quality serving ware: Present the dish on elegant, white porcelain plates to showcase the vibrant colors of the stuffed shells and create a sense of luxury.

  6. Incorporate edible flowers: Introduce edible flowers such as nasturtiums or pansies to the plate for a stunning and artistic touch.

  7. Create a sauce swirl: Use a spoon to create a decorative swirl of marinara sauce on the plate, adding a professional and artistic flair to the presentation.

  8. Add a sprinkle of Parmesan: Finish the dish with a light dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese for a touch of sophistication and savory richness.

  9. Serve with a side salad: Accompany the stuffed shells with a small side salad dressed with a light vinaigrette to provide a refreshing and complementary element to the dish.

  10. Use contrasting colors: Consider the color wheel when plating and use contrasting colors to make the dish visually striking and appealing.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Stuffed Shells

  • Skillet: A flat-bottomed pan used for frying, searing, and sautéing ingredients.
  • Baking dish: A deep, oven-safe dish used for baking and roasting dishes such as casseroles and lasagnas.
  • Medium bowl: A bowl of moderate size used for mixing and combining ingredients.
  • Large skillet: A wide, flat-bottomed pan used for cooking larger quantities of food such as stir-fries and sautés.
  • Medium skillet: A versatile pan used for cooking a variety of dishes such as omelets, pancakes, and sautés.
  • 9x13-inch baking dish: A standard-sized baking dish used for making a variety of baked dishes such as casseroles and desserts.
  • Food processor: A kitchen appliance used for chopping, blending, and pureeing ingredients.
  • Mixing bowl: A bowl used for combining and mixing ingredients during food preparation.
  • Skillet: A versatile pan used for frying, searing, and sautéing a variety of ingredients.
  • Medium skillet: A pan used for cooking and sautéing a range of dishes such as vegetables, meats, and sauces.

Storing and Freezing Stuffed Shells With Summer Squash and Ricotta

  • Allow the stuffed shells to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep for up to 3-4 days.
  • To freeze the stuffed shells, place them in a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag. Make sure to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label the container with the date and contents.
  • Frozen stuffed shells can be stored for up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • When ready to eat, thaw the stuffed shells overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat the thawed stuffed shells in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions of stuffed shells in the microwave. Place them on a microwave-safe plate and heat for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through.
  • If the stuffed shells seem dry after reheating, you can add a little extra marinara sauce to help moisten them.
  • Avoid freezing stuffed shells with the prosciutto crispies, as they may lose their texture and become soggy upon thawing. Instead, prepare the prosciutto crispies fresh when serving the reheated stuffed shells.

How To Reheat Leftover Stuffed Shells

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the leftover stuffed shells in an oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes of baking to allow the top to crisp up slightly.

  • For a quicker method, place the stuffed shells on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Be careful not to overheat, as this can cause the pasta to become rubbery.

  • If you have a bit more time, you can reheat the stuffed shells in a skillet on the stovetop. Add a small amount of marinara sauce or water to the skillet and place the shells in a single layer. Cover the skillet and heat over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes, or until the shells are heated through and the sauce is bubbling.

  • For a crispy top, after reheating the stuffed shells using any of the above methods, place them under the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning.

  • If you have leftover prosciutto crispies, store them separately in an airtight container at room temperature. Sprinkle them over the reheated stuffed shells just before serving for added texture and flavor.

Interesting Fact About Stuffed Shells With Summer Squash and Ricotta

The stuffed shells with summer squash and ricotta recipe is a delicious way to incorporate seasonal vegetables into a classic Italian dish. This dish is a great source of calcium and protein, thanks to the ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Additionally, the summer squash adds a light and refreshing flavor to the filling. It's a versatile recipe that can be customized with different herbs and spices to suit your taste preferences. Enjoy experimenting with this dish and make it your own!

Is Making Stuffed Shells at Home Cost-Effective?

The cost-effectiveness of this stuffed shells with summer squash and ricotta recipe largely depends on the availability and price of ingredients. Ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese can be expensive, but the use of seasonal summer squash can help balance the cost. The addition of prosciutto can increase the overall cost. Considering the yield and nutritional value, this recipe can be rated 7/10 for taste and versatility. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $25-$30, making it a moderately cost-effective option.

Is This Stuffed Shells Recipe Healthy?

This stuffed shells recipe has some healthy elements, such as the use of summer squash, which is low in calories and rich in nutrients like vitamin C and fiber. The recipe also incorporates ricotta and mozzarella cheese, providing a good source of protein and calcium. However, the overall healthiness of the dish could be improved.

The recipe is relatively high in calories and fat due to the generous amounts of cheese and the addition of prosciutto crispies. While the olive oil used for cooking the vegetables and prosciutto is a healthier fat option, the quantity used may be excessive.

  • To make the recipe healthier, consider reducing the amount of cheese used or opting for low-fat versions of ricotta and mozzarella. You can also increase the proportion of vegetables to pasta, which will boost the fiber and nutrient content while reducing the overall calorie density of the dish.
  • Instead of using prosciutto crispies as a topping, you could opt for a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese or a mixture of breadcrumbs and herbs. This will help reduce the sodium and fat content of the dish.
  • To further enhance the nutritional value, consider adding more varieties of vegetables to the filling, such as spinach, zucchini, or bell peppers. These will provide additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Whole wheat or legume-based pasta shells can be used as a more nutrient-dense and fiber-rich alternative to traditional pasta.

Editor's Opinion on This Stuffed Shells With Summer Squash and Ricotta Recipe

The combination of tender summer squash and creamy ricotta stuffed into pasta shells creates a delightful and satisfying dish. The flavors are well-balanced, and the addition of mozzarella and marinara sauce adds a comforting richness. The prosciutto crispies provide a delightful crunch and a hint of saltiness, elevating the dish to a new level. Overall, this recipe offers a perfect blend of textures and flavors, making it a wonderful choice for a family dinner or a special gathering.

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

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus: Tender asparagus spears roasted to perfection with a crispy garlic parmesan topping.
Honey Glazed Carrots with Thyme: Sweet and savory carrots glazed with honey and thyme for a delicious side dish.
Grilled Pineapple with Chili Lime Glaze: Juicy pineapple slices grilled to perfection and drizzled with a spicy and tangy chili lime glaze.

Similar Recipes to Stuffed Shells With Summer Squash and Ricotta

Grilled Vegetable Skewers: Marinate your favorite vegetables and grill them to perfection for a healthy and delicious side dish or main course.
Braised Beef Short Ribs: Slow cook beef short ribs in a flavorful broth until they are fall-off-the-bone tender, perfect for a comforting and hearty meal.
Mango Coconut Chia Pudding: Combine ripe mango, creamy coconut milk, and nutritious chia seeds to create a refreshing and satisfying dessert or breakfast option.
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup: Simmer ripe tomatoes and fresh basil with cream for a velvety smooth and comforting soup that's perfect for any time of the year.
Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken: Marinate a whole chicken with zesty lemon and aromatic garlic, then roast it to golden perfection for a flavorful and juicy main course.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for Stuffed Shells With Summer Squash and Ricotta

Appetizers:
Stuffed Mushrooms: Create a savory and indulgent appetizer by stuffing mushrooms with a mixture of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and bake until golden and bubbly.
Bruschetta: Elevate your appetizer game with a classic bruschetta. Top crispy slices of baguette with a flavorful mixture of diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, and balsamic glaze for a refreshing and vibrant start to any meal.
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 after dinner.
Berry Parfait: Layer juicy mixed berries with creamy vanilla yogurt and crunchy granola for a refreshing and satisfying berry parfait. This colorful and healthy dessert is a great way to showcase the best of summer fruits.

Why trust this Stuffed Shells with Summer Squash and Ricotta Recipe:

This stuffed shells with summer squash and ricotta recipe offers a delightful combination of flavors and textures. The use of fresh yellow squash and ricotta cheese ensures a light and creamy filling, while the addition of mozzarella cheese provides a rich and gooey finish. The incorporation of fresh thyme and black pepper adds depth and aromatic notes to the dish. The optional prosciutto crispies offer a delightful crunch and savory element. With a balance of wholesome ingredients and a straightforward cooking method, this recipe promises a satisfying and comforting meal for all to enjoy.

Have you tried this Stuffed Shells with Summer Squash and Ricotta Recipe? Join our Recipe Sharing forum to discuss your experience making this dish and share your own tweaks or variations!
FAQ:
Can I use zucchini instead of yellow squash?
Yes, you can definitely use zucchini instead of yellow squash in this recipe. Both vegetables have a similar texture and flavor, so feel free to make the substitution based on your preference or what you have on hand.
Can I prepare the stuffed shells in advance?
Absolutely! You can prepare the stuffed shells in advance and refrigerate them until you're ready to bake. Just cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. When you're ready to enjoy, simply remove the plastic wrap and bake as directed in the recipe.
Can I freeze the stuffed shells for later?
Yes, you can freeze the stuffed shells for later. After assembling the shells in the baking dish, cover it tightly with aluminum foil and place it in the freezer. When you're ready to enjoy, allow the dish to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking it according to the recipe instructions.
Can I use a different type of cheese for the filling?
Absolutely! While the recipe calls for ricotta and mozzarella cheese, you can certainly get creative with the filling. Feel free to experiment with different cheeses such as Parmesan, fontina, or goat cheese to customize the flavor to your liking.
Can I make this recipe vegetarian?
Yes, you can easily make this recipe vegetarian by omitting the prosciutto crispies. The stuffed shells with summer squash and ricotta are delicious and satisfying on their own, and the prosciutto can be omitted without compromising the overall flavor and enjoyment of the dish.

Was this page helpful?

Chat Bubble Icon Share your own special recipe
Submit Your Own Recipe

Have your own special recipe to share? Submit Your Recipe Today!