Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

  • Author: Kelley


A delicious, easy, weeknight stuffed shells recipe with a spinach-ricotta filling and savory meat sauce.


  • 1 lb. sausage (pork, chicken, Italian, breakfast….whatever you like!)
  • 32 oz marinara sauce
  • 1 lb. baby spinach
  • 12 oz giant pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. In a medium stock pot or sauce pan, add the sausage and cook over medium-high heat. *If using a lean sausage like turkey or chicken, you’ll need to add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the sausage, breaking into pieces as it cooks. Drain excess fat. Add sausage and marinara back to the pot and simmer on low while you prepare the shells.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt generously. Fill a bowl with ice water. Blanch the spinach, just until wilted, about 20 seconds and transfer to the ice water, then drain. Squeeze out excess water. Bring the water in the pot back to a boil and add the pasta shells. Cook al dente, about 10 minutes, and drain and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Put spinach and minced garlic in the food processor and pulse until spinach is finely chopped. Add ricotta cheese, egg, minced chives, basil, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Process until well blended.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Coat the bottom of a large baking dish or two 2-quart dishes with about 1/3 of the marinara sauce. Fill each shell with a tablespoon or so of the spinach-ricotta filling. Arrange in a single layer in the baking dish. The shells should fit into the dish(es) in one layer. Top with the remaining tomato sauce and the shredded mozzarella. Cover the dish with foil.
  5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.


To freeze: prepare shells up to step 4. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then again with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, remove foil and plastic, cover again with just foil, and bake as directed adding 15-20 minutes longer time to compensate for being frozen.