Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells (Revisited)

This year we signed up for a large share from our CSA.  We had a medium share last year, and it was plenty of food for my husband and I, but my goal this summer is to have extra fresh and local veggies so that I can freeze them for the winter and decrease what I have to buy at the grocery store when there isn’t local produce available.

We got our first share last week, and it had lots of greens, including a bunch of spinach.  I had quite a few of my new favorite salads, which were spectacular, but I knew we wouldn’t eat everything in one week, so I decided to make some spinach stuffed shells.  Whenever I make filled pasta (stuffed shells, ravioli, etc.), I usually make a big batch.  That way, we can enjoy a small amount for dinner, and then I can stash a few more meals worth in the freezer for nights when I’m too tired to cook or lacking inspiration.

In this case, it was a great way to use the spinach that would have wound up in the trash had I not used it for something!  I’m determined not to let any of my CSA goodies go to waste, so you’ll be seeing quite a few CSA-inspired recipes this summer.  Even if you don’t have a CSA, you’ll most likely be able to find the same produce that I’m using at your local farmers markets for a reasonable price while it is in season!

I have shared a recipe for stuffed shells before (March 1st of last year, to be exact), and my recipe this time hasn’t varied all that much. I thought it was worth revisiting, though, because it’s one of my favorites.  Plus, I’d like to think that my photography skills have improved a little bit since then (you are free to disagree, if you like), so I took some new pictures!

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

  • 18 ounces jumbo shells
  • 32 ounces ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
  • 3 eggs
  • Large bunch of fresh spinach, thick stems removed
  • 2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    (or substitute a combination of dried thyme and dried basil)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Tomato sauce (optional)
  • Additional cheese for sprinkling (optional)

Cook the shells according to the package directions.  Rinse in cold water and drain. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and eggs. Transfer half of the mixer to the bowl of a food processor.  Add half of the spinach and cheeses.  Pulse until the mixture comes together and the spinach is chopped (but not completely pureed).  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining ricotta mixture, spinach, and cheeses.  Stir the Italian seasoning into the mixture and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the filling to a pastry bag.  Pipe the filling mixture into the cooked shells. (You could also spoon the mixture, but I really think piping is the way to go here!)

If you are freezing the shells, place the filled shells in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Place them in the freezer for an hour or two. Then transfer the shells to freezer bags or containers once they are completely frozen (this will help to keep them from sticking to each other).

To prepare the shells, place them in a single layer in a lightly greased baking dish.  Top with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Bake at 375°F for about 35-40 minutes until bubbly.  Top with some freshly chopped basil before serving.

12 Responses to Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells (Revisited)

  1. oh yum, this looks so good! Any tips for baking from frozen? Do you thaw first, or can you bake straight from the freezer?

    • Megan – I actually haven’t cooked them from frozen yet. But, my gut says to thaw them first and then bake as I mentioned. Does anyone else have any experience with baking frozen stuffed shells?

  2. Your post has me so excited. I’m going a half-share of vegetables, fruit and eggs at my local CSA. It’ll be my first time participating. The spinach looks amazing.

  3. Jessica – Not a dumb question! I have seen frozen stuffed shells at the store in big resealable bags, so I just froze them on a baking sheet and then tossed them in quart-sized freezer ziplock bags. Freezing them on the baking sheet first is the key to keeping them from sticking together in the bag… Works well for ravioli and other pastas, too. :)

  4. One of my favorite dishes. Mmm.

    As far as cooking from frozen – you can put it straight in the oven, just takes a little longer (like a stoffer’s lasagna or something… not that stoffers could compare to that beautiful love-shapped dish!)

  5. Your croquembouche looks delicious. The chocolate is so glossy – I am sure it didn’t last long on the platter. :)

  6. Stuffed shells are one of my favorite things to eat, but I rarely think to make them. Yours look so good! Wish I’d been at dinner at your house that night…

  7. I love stuffed shells (my mom used to make them). So perfect for using up spinach and having a tasty dinner on hand in the freezer.