These Vegetarian Stuffed Shells are the best hearty and crowd-pleasing comfort food you’ll find! I mean, can you really go wrong with the cheese and pasta combo?
Vegetarian Shells Recipe
The creamy filling in these cheesy stuffed shells makes this recipe the perfect vegetarian dinner that will leave you more than satisfied!
There is so much comfort in this easy hearty pasta dish.
It is great for the whole family and you can throw it together in no time on those busy weekday nights.
Ingredients for Spinach Stuffed Shells
Pasta Shells- Be sure to grab the Jumbo Pasta Shells, as this makes for easy stuffing.
Onion- I used a white onion, but yellow onion also works great for this recipe.
Bell Pepper- This recipe uses red bell pepper, which is great for color variation. But yellow, orange or green are just as tasty!
Marinara Sauce- There are SO many sauces to choose from these days. I like to keep it simple with the classic sauce, but if there is one with a little extra flavor to it, feel free to use it!
Pantry Staples – Olive oil, green and yellow squash, fresh spinach, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning.
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I get it, stuffed shells from scratch can seem daunting! Don’t be intimidated! You’ll be surprised how easy vegetarian stuffed shells are to throw together!
How to make Stuffed Shells from Scratch
First: Preheat oven to 350F. Cook pasta shells “al dente” according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Second: While the pasta is cooking, sauté the onion, squash, zucchini, and bell pepper with olive oil over medium heat. Add spinach and stir until the spinach wilts. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Third: In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, egg, and spices. Stir in the vegetable mixture.
Fourth: Spread 3/4 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of your baking dish. Stuff each cooked pasta shell with 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable cheese mixture. Place the shells in the baking dish. Top with remaining sauce.
Fifth: Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350F for 35 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly, and serve!
For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.
Can I freeze them?
This vegetarian stuffed shell recipe is the perfect meal to make ahead or double the batch and throw one in the freezer for those busy nights!
To freeze these stuffed shells, use a disposable aluminum pan and prepare the shells according to directions on the recipe card, BUT DO NOT BAKE. After you prepare the shells, cover the pan with foil and place it in the freezer.
When you’re ready to eat, bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until bubbly and browned on the top.
How long do they last?
These shells will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer.
How do you reheat leftovers?
Microwave: Place a single serving of the shells on a microwave-safe plate. Add a little bit of sauce or water on top of your servings to keep them moist. Cover and heat for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until they have warmed all the way through.
Oven: Place shells in an oven-safe dish, cover with foil, and bake at 375 until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees.
Oven (if frozen): bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until bubbly and browned on the top.
Are Stuffed Shells bad for you?
Let’s be honest, the many different fat-filled kinds of cheese and giant shells of pasta in this recipe aren’t exactly going to be on your meal plan from your personal trainer. With that being said, one unhealthy meal isn’t going to hurt you, just like one healthy meal isn’t going to give you that fitness model figure.
Keep it simple. Moderation is key, as it is with everything. Pair one or two stuffed shells with a side of veggies and you’re in for a very balanced delicious meal. I’ve included other healthy side options as well below.
Spinach- If spinach isn’t your thing, or you fight your husband and kids daily to eat the green stuff, go ahead and leave it out! Or chop it up really fine and sneak it into the sauce.
Marinara-If you’re feeling extra ambitious, try a delicious homemade marinara in place of a store-bought sauce.
Herbs-Italian seasoning is my favorite and makes things really quick with this recipe. But use whatever herbs you like best. If you have fresh herbs, feel free to use those instead of dried ones.
TIP: If you are using fresh herbs, be sure to use double the amount as you would dried herbs due to the high water content. They will cook down a lot.
Cheese- Try using a different cheese in place of mozzarella. Romano, parmesan or provolone are all tasty as well. You can also replace the ricotta with cream cheese or cottage cheese!
What side dishes go well with Stuffed Shells?
- Brussel Sprout Slaw with Homemade Italian Dressing
- Roasted Green Beans
- Italian Chopped Salad
- Garlic Knots
Tips for No Leftovers
- To keep your shells from falling apart when you stuff them, slightly undercook the shells, just to al dente as they will continue to cook when they go into the oven.
- For extra smooth melted cheese, shred your own rather than buying the pre-shredded bags of cheese. Most pre-shredded bags of cheese are coated with anti-caking agents that do not melt as well and can throw off the taste.
- Make your own marinara sauce to really spice it up! This is a fantastic Simple Homemade Marinara recipe.
- To get the job done quickly with less mess, use a piping bag or Ziploc bag with the tip cut off to fill your shells.
- Only choose ingredients you like. If you don’t like a certain herb, try a different herb. Replace Ricotta with cream cheese or cottage cheese.
- Double the recipe and make a second batch to freeze later!
If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!
This classic Vegetarian Stuffed Shell recipe couldn’t be easier to throw together! Keep scrolling to find a side dish to go with this cheesy pasta favorite.
- 16 jumbo pasta shells, uncooked
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup onion, finely diced
- ½ cup zucchini, finely diced
- ½ cup yellow squash, finely diced
- ½ cup bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ cups marinara sauce
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Cook pasta shells to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, zucchini, squash and bell pepper to the pan.
- Cook 3-4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add spinach. Stir until spinach wilts. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, egg, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Add vegetable mixture to cheese mixture and stir until fully combined.
- Spread ¾ cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of an 11X7 or 8X8 baking dish.
- Carefully stuff each shell with 2-3 Tablespoons of vegetable mixture. Place stuffed shells in even rows in the baking dish. Top with remaining sauce.
- Cover dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly over the top.
- Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes more until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Remove from the oven. Let cool slightly. Serve warm!
*If you love this recipe as much as I do, please leave me a comment and rate it 5 stars. Thank you!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 2 shells
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 490Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 443mgCarbohydrates: 76gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 23g
This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.
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