Stuffed Lasagna Shells
If you have ever ordered stuffed lasagna shells from an authentic Italian restaurant, then you likely know how delicious this meal can be. Our recipe will show you how to make restaurant-worthy stuffed shells in just a few minutes!
Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells
Lasagna stuffed shells are an Italian classic. They are delicious, filling and actually quite easy to make. Our version incorporated fresh spinach along with lots of cheeses, sauce and the perfect amount of seasonings. We have skipped the traditional ground beef in this recipe in order to give you a great vegetarian dish that you are sure to love. You can easily make authentic Italian cuisine any night of the week with this easy to follow the recipe!
How to Make Lasagna Stuffed Shells
Lasagna stuffed shells are one of those dishes that looks complex but that is actually made in just a few simple steps and with very little prep time. Take a look at this quick breakdown of the recipe to see how simple it can be to bake this tasty meal.
- Preheat your oven and prepare a casserole dish by placing a small amount of marinara sauce in the bottom of the dish. This will prevent the lasagna stuffed shells from sticking without having to use cooking spray or extra grease.
- The olive oil and garlic are then sauted together and the spinach is added in, letting it wilt for a minute or two.
- The garlic and spinach mix is them mixed into the ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and half of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
- The seasonings and egg are stirred in as well to complete the stuffed shell filling.
- The ricotta cheese mix is then scooped into precooked jumbo pasta shells and the stuffed shells are placed in the prepared casserole dish.
- Once all of the shells are stuffed, the tomato sauce is poured over the top and the remaining mozzarella is sprinkled over the shells.
- The lasagna pan is covered in foil and bake for about 20 minutes in the preheated oven. You may need to add a few minutes cook time to make sure the cheese is fully melted and bubbly.
- Serve the lasagna stuffed shells while hot!
A pretty simple set of instructions for a dish that is so full of delicious ingredients! As you can see, this is definitely a recipe you can make on a busy weeknight without a problem.
Different Italian Pasta Dishes
A lot of Italian pasta dishes are very similar in that they contain many of the same ingredients. You may be wondering, is manicotti the same as stuffed shells? What is the difference between lasagna and lasagna stuffed shells? What makes them all unique? Here are your answers:
Manicotti- The word manicotti literally translates to mean “little sleeve” and is made using a very long tube of pasta with ridges that are stuffed and baked with tomato sauce. The filling is traditionally a mixture of ricotta and spinach.
Lasagna– By definition, lasagna is a wide, ribbon-like pasta that is made by alternating layers of noodles, tomato sauce, vegetables, cheese (usually ricotta and parmesan cheese) and occasionally ground beef. The dish is baked in an oven and cut into single-sized servings.
Stuffed Shells– Stuffed shells are made with jumbo pasta shells that have thin ridges on the outside. They are typically stuffed with a mixture of meats, cheeses and veggies. You will often see stuffed shells baked in a cream or cheese sauce or simply with a tomato sauce.
As you can see, the biggest difference in each classic recipe is the kind of noodles that are used. Manicotti are tubes, stuffed shells are jumbo pasta shells and lasagna is long ribbon noodles that are layered instead of stuffed. Each dish is baked in the oven and each dish has major components of tomato sauce, ricotta, vegetables, cheese and seasonings. Of course, everyone has their favorite dish, just as you likely have your favorite as well! However, if you like lasagna or you are a big fan of manicotti, this recipe for cheese filled, lasagna stuffed shells will definitely be a winner for you as well.
Create Your Own Stuffed Shell Recipe
We have already made a few awesome alterations to our lasagna stuffed shells recipe, keeping it a classic but also making it just a little unique. For example, we use cottage cheese in place of some of the ricotta. Cottage cheese helps make our recipe a little bit lighter and less dense but still deliciously cheese filled.
We also have eliminated the ground beef in our recipe for lasagna shells that you may commonly find in the tomato sauce for stuffed shells. Of course, you can use ground beef in the sauce or in the filling if you would like, but we opted for a vegetarian version of lasagna stuffed shells. Here are a few more options you may want to try in order to make these lasagna stuffed shells perfect for your taste.
- Cook some lean ground beef in a large skillet, breaking up the ground beef as it cooks. Once the meat is no longer pink, stir in the tomato sauce. Use the ground beef sauce in place of the plain marinara sauce in the recipe.
- Add a cup of grated parmesan to the ricotta cheese mixture.
- Add some chopped zucchini to the skillet with the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about a minute before adding the spinach.
- Chop some fresh tomatoes and add them to the marinara sauce to make it more like a homemade recipe.
- Add some diced onion to the saute pan with the garlic to add a little more flavor to the filling.
If you have any great ideas that will make this recipe for lasagna stuffed shells even more amazing, let us know in the comments below. You can also sign up with your email address to have some of our great recipes delivered right to your inbox! We have tons of delicious and easy recipes to share.
A quick way to make perfect, individually sized lasagana.
- 1 (16oz) package jumbo pasta shells cooked al dente and well drained
- 1 (24oz) jar Marinara Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 7 cups baby spinach chopped (fresh or frozen works)
- 1 ½ cups low-fat ricotta cheese
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella (divided)
- ½ cup cottage cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven 425(F) degrees and spread 1 cup marinara in a 9×13 baking dish.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet to medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 1 minute. Add chopped spinach and sauté until wilted (about 3 minutes).
- Toss spinach mixture into a large mixing bowl then add in ricotta, half of the mozzarella, cottage cheese, egg, and seasonings.
- Fill each shell with the mixture, then place in prepare baking dish. Once the pan is full, spread remaining marinara sauce and cheese evenly across the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly.
- Make your own Italian seasoning by mixing 2 tablespoons basil, 2 tablespoons oregano, 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, 2 tablespoons parsley, 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and salt and pepper together in a bowl. Use a teaspoon of this mixture in the ricotta cheese filling.
- While our recipe uses low-fat ricotta, whole milk ricotta cheese is much richer and creamier. If you don’t mind some extra calories and fats, try using whole milk ricotta for a smoother filling.
- If you choose to add ground beef to the recipe, be sure it is lean and, if possible, grass-fed for extra nutritional benefits. You can also try making the sauce for these lasagna stuffed shells with ground turkey or ground pork.
- After baking for 20 minutes, remove the pan, remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes to really help the cheese brown on top of the shells.