Filled with a fragrant, flavorful basil garlic ricotta mixture, this stuffed shells recipe can be made in under an hour.
Working at home has its perks. Instead of coffee breaks, I can take 10 minutes and do a quick yoga video, for instance. Or I can pause my day for a short ballet class before getting back into the flow of editing.
And when lunchtime rolls around, I can get creative in the kitchen.
That’s precisely how I know — without a shred of doubt — that this recipe can be made start to finish in about an hour with minimal hands-on time. And yes, that includes the first cooking of the shells. Of course, while this can be a lunch for the work- and school-at-home family, it also makes a lovely dinner.
Making stuffed shells has a few parts to it.
First, you have to cook the shells. This is a largely hands-off task, so don’t be afraid to do other things while they cook. When they are tender, rinse them in cold water. This will pause the cooking process so they don’t get too soft and it will make them easier to handle when you fill them.
Now comes the hands-on part. It’s time to make the filling — a mixture of ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan, garlic, basil and seasonings. All you have to do is stir the ingredients together. It’s really that simple.
When making this filling for this stuffed shells recipe, I love to use basil herb paste because it’s so easy. Plus, in the spring when basil isn’t yet in season, it provides a lasting way to have fresh herbs in dishes.
But you could totally use fresh basil if you have it. In fact, I encourage it, if it’s an option.
Then it’s time to fill the shells and set them in a pool of marinara in a baking dish. You just need a little marinara in the bottom to stop them from sticking to the pan. I used jarred marinara for this since my homemade from last summer is all out. But you could use whatever marinara you wish. You’ll need about two cups.
As for the filling, take care not to overfill the stuffed shells. Otherwise, you will be rearranging filling to finish the last few shells.
Top the shells with the remaining marinara and then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. You could totally go rogue on this step and add other cheeses too or double the cheese or … you get the picture. Go as cheesy as you like.
And then bake them. The shells bake first covered in foil and then finish off without the foil, so they can get all bubbly and melty.
This stuffed shells recipe is designed to feed four. You’ll want to serve it with a vegetable side dish like a salad or steamed broccoli. Bread is good too, so you can sop up the sauce.
This is just good, basic, easy home cooking. And don’t worry if you haven’t made stuffed shells before. They seem like they’d be hard, but really they are pretty easy.
OH! And there’s a make-ahead option in the recipe. You can prepare this dish ahead of time and bake it later. Easy peasy.
Hope you are faring well.
- 8 oz jumbo pasta shells (about 20)
- 1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 cups marinara
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- Cook the pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan, basil, garlic, salt and pepper until well combined.
- Spread 1/2 cup of sauce around the bottom of a 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Fill the cooked shells with the ricotta mixture and arrange in the pan. Continue until all of the shells and filling has been used. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
- At this point, you can cover the dish and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook or you can cook it immediately.
- To cook immediately, have an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and slide into the oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.