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A batch of pasta shells filled with spinach and ricotta cheese, fresh out of the oven.
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Pasta shells filled with spinach and ricotta cheese

This pasta shells dish is filled with ricotta cheese and spinach, has a pinch of nutmeg and Italian herbs and it is topped with some extra cheese. Absolutely delish family comfort dish.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword comfort food, main course, pasta dish, pasta shells, ricotta cheese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 872kcal

Equipment

  • ovenproof dish

Ingredients

  • 1 pack pasta shells
  • 300 g ricotta cheese
  • 200 g spinach (fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 270 g cheese (mixed, grated; cheddar and mozzarella)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 400 g tomato sauce (passata) *
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs
  • 3-4 tbsp Parmesan cheese (to sprinkle when serving)

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta for about 5 min until the shells are becoming bigger and easy to fill. I would recommend to cook them halfway so if the pack says 10 min you cook them for 4-5 min. Keep an eye on those so they are not overly cooked. (See recipe notes for some tips)
  • Wash the spinach and cook for 2 minutes in a frying pan with a sprinkle of water or milk if you want, a pinch of salt, one of pepper and some freshly ground nutmeg. When finish turn heat off and set aside to cool.
  • In a separate bowl mix the ricotta cheese with 3/4 (180g) of the grated cheese, another pinch of nutmeg and add the spinach. Mix well. Season if necessary.
  • Preheat oven at 180C or 350F.
  • Prepare the baking dish (20cm x 30cm) and start by spooning half of the tomato sauce as a first layer at the bottom of the dish. Fill the shells with roughly about a tbsp of cheese and spinach mixture until you have finished all shells and the cheese.
  • Arrange all filled shells over the tomato sauce in one layer. Place them pretty close to each other and squeeze some extra in between if necessary. Spoon over the shells the remaining tomato sauce.
  • Place the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 180C 350F.
  • Halfway through, take the dish out and sprinkle the remaining (90g or add more if you wish) of the grated cheese. Place back in the oven and bake till nice and golden brown.
  • When finish baking take out of the oven and serve with a light sprinkle of Parmesan on top. Enjoy!!

Notes

While pasta boils, prepare one big bowl/pot with cold water 1-2 litres so that the pasta can be placed in there as soon as it's finished with the boiling. Drain and quickly put it in the super cold water. It stops the pasta from cooking any further and prevents it from sticking. I was saying that this recipe serves 4 people, yes indeed, 4 very hungry ones ? or 6 as a second dish that would be followed by a dessert. Although if any leftover I have to say it is yummy in anyone's tummy the next day too. ?
A close-up of some cheesy spinach & ricotta cheese filled pasta shells, all ready to be eaten.
Since this dish contains quite a bit of cheese I normally don't grease or butter my oven dish but instead I sometimes coat the bottom and edges with a bit of tomato sauce. The pasta won't stick anyway more than it would with butter or tomato juice so feel free to leave it as it is if you fancy. Just like I did this time. ? Instead of plain tomato sauce you could also use any ready-made pasta tomato sauce like Bolognese or anyone you normally like or just have handy.

Nutrition

Calories: 872kcal | Carbohydrates: 95g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 112mg | Sodium: 1403mg | Potassium: 1006mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 6161IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 780mg | Iron: 5mg