It’s time to impress your family and friends with this super easy Vegetarian Stuffed Shells recipe. We take ricotta cheese, spinach, and chopped mushrooms and stuff them inside jumbo pasta shells with tons of Italian-inspired seasonings. Then, we bake everything in a ton of marinara sauce with extra mozzarella on top until it’s hot and bubbly!
I love making stuffed shells because they feel and look so fancy, even though they require the smallest effort. Sometimes I keep it vegetarian, sometimes I add Italian sausage or even make a seafood version. The best part – and y’all know I get hype over this – is they are so freezer-friendly! Normally, especially if I’m eating by myself, I make enough for about 3 meals and then freeze the rest to pull out on nights I really don’t feel like putting forth any effort on dinner.
- Ricotta Cheese: The ricotta cheese is going to give us a traditional taste to this flavor profile, plus it’s extra creamy and good. If you don’t like ricotta cheese, I suggest cream cheese as a substitute.
- Veggie Filling: For these meatless stuffed shells, we’re going to use spinach and mushrooms as our vegetables of choice. The great thing is you can customize this to your personal tastes; try some sundried tomatoes or a pea puree filling – the choice is yours!
- Jumbo Pasta Shells: I’ve never had trouble finding these in my local Kroger, but you can always order from Amazon if you can’t find them. We need the really big shells so it’s easy to stuff everything inside.
- Marinara Sauce: So I typically just make my own marinara sauce because it tastes so much better… and I’ve left instructions for that in the recipe card below! However, if you are super short on time, a jar of your favorite sauce will work.
How to Freeze Stuffed Shells
The freezing process for meatless stuffed shells is really easy. Just set the unbaked stuffed shells on a cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer for an hour or so until they are solid. Then, add all of your frozen shells to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. When it’s time to eat, transfer straight from the freezer to a baking pan, add your sauce, and bake away.
Or, you can bake as usual and then freeze that way. To reheat, I usually add the shells + sauce to a saucepan with a bit of water and then cover with a lid so it can steam.
Serve with a side salad for some extra veggies. Let me know in the comments – what are some of your go-to dinner ideas?
Of course! See the section above for freezing options – whether you want to freeze before baking or after baking.
I would suggest cream cheese as a substitute. I’m not a fan of cottage cheese, but I’ve heard about that being a good substitute if you blend it to make it silky smooth.
I normally use the Barilla brand – linked here – and they just call them “Jumbo Shells”.
Other Dinner Recipes You’ll Love!
Vegetarian Stuffed Shells
- 4 oz. white mushrooms finely chopped
- 6 oz. spinach chopped
- 10 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1 ct. eggs large
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1 ½ cups marinara sauce
- 20 ct. jumbo pasta shells
- Boil a large pot of water + salt until it is at a rolling boil. Add pasta shells and cook for about 2 minutes less than the directions on the package – these will fully cook in the oven.
- Once shells are done, drain and set aside. I actually blanch them with a quick ice bath to completely stop the cooking process.
- Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil.
- Add sliced mushrooms and chopped spinach to skillet and sauté for about 5 minutes until mushrooms are browned. The spinach will release water as it cooks down; drain any excess.
- In a medium-sized bowl, add veggies, cheeses, and seasonings (I use Italian seasoning, black pepper, and garlic powder.) When the mixture tastes great, stir in your egg until fully incorporated.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. In a 9×13 baking dish, spread marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan. Don't want to use store-bought? Quickly add either a can of crushed tomatoes or a can of tomato sauce to a small saucepot. Add a tablespoon of sugar (to cut the acidity) and season with listed seasonings above. Let simmer until flavors are incorporated fully.
- Take your cheese and veggie mixture and stuff the shells. Some people use piping bags, but I get down and dirty with a regular serving spoon and my (washed!) hands.
- Layer stuffed shells on top of the marinara sauce. If you have any remaining marinara, either cover the shells or save for dunking once everything is done!
- Bake for about 25 minutes, covered in aluminum foil. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes until the tops begin to brown and your sauce is bubbling.
- If you prefer, sprinkle a bit of parmesan on top and serve while still hot. Enjoy!
- To freeze, stuff the shells as written above and then layer on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place in the freezer for about an hour to ensure that they will not stick together. After an hour, remove and add to a large freezer-safe Ziploc bag.
- To reheat, bake frozen shells and sauce uncovered at 375°F for 30-45 minutes until fully heated through. Enjoy!
The Coined Breakdown
- Total Cost per serving: $1.54
- Total Cost (6 servings): $6.16
- Those Other Guys: $12.99 per serving