Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Shells

by jenna on July 6, 2012

This is for all you cheese lovers out there.

Last summer, I posted a recipe for dairy-free stuffed shells. They’re good. But they’re dairy-free. I eat them when I feel like being dairy-free. I make them for vegan friends and after weekends that involve hot dogs, french fries and grilled steak. In my mind, there’s time and place for everything including nutritional yeast, blocks of velveeta, green juice and dr. pepper. It’s all about moderation, right?

These shells do not contain tofu nor nutritional yeast…and they are best eaten alongside some buttery garlic bread and a big glass of red wine.

I actually posted this recipe back in 2009. I just love it so much! And when was trying to think of a meal to bring to a friend who just had a baby girl last week, I dusted it back off. I actually wasn’t going to re-post it, but then I thought maybe some new readers might have missed the original. And I just couldn’t stand the thought of that. It would simply be a tragedy to miss out on something this good.

Plus, the original recipe was without photos and in all italics because I used to think it was cool back in 2009 to write recipes in all italics. If Comic Sans was an option for font I probably would have used that, too. Just saying….sometimes recipes are worth a re-post.

The cheesy filling is a blend of ricotta cheese, Italian blend cheeses, Parmesan cheese, cottage cheese and spinach. It’s absolutely comfort food at its very best. I used to make these stuffed shells all the time while I was in culinary school and living in Orlando with my friend, Helen. I’d make big batches on Sunday night and we’d eat it all.week.long since neither of us had any time to cook during the week (ironic that I had no time to cook during culinary school). Sometimes I added a bit of spicy chicken sausage to the sauce, but often just left them vegetarian.

So, make a big batch this weekend! Spinach makes them healthy, right?

Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Shells

serves 6

Print this recipe!


12 oz box jumbo shells

1 15-oz container ricotta cheese

1 cup Italian blend grated cheese

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

12 oz cottage cheese

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

dash of ground nutmeg

24 oz of your favorite marinara sauce

1 1/2 cups grated mozzerella cheese

10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted with liquid wrung out


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Boil the pasta in salted water. Drain and lay out shells on a wax paper lined kitchen counter. Let cool and make the filling.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, cottage cheese, Italian cheese blend, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg and spinach. Mix well.

Spoon about tbsp of cheese into each shell and lay each seam side up into a greased 9 x 12″ casserole dish. You will have a little extra—I usually bake those in a smaller dish alongside the big dish. Pour the sauce over the shells and sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese.

Cover with tin foil and bake 30 minutes. Enjoy!


1 hour



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{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily @ Life on Food July 6, 2012 at 3:45 am

These look super duper yummy. I haven’t tried stuffed shells before, I normally stick to lasagna but you might have just convinced me otherwise. Wine and garlic bread is a must….and good friends.


Amanda July 6, 2012 at 3:52 am

My Husband loves when I make stuffed shells and I love it because there are always yummy leftovers. I pretty much make them the same way you do except the cottage cheese. I don’t use that. I will be trying the spinach next time though to get some extra veggies in for the kid.


Kristen @ notsodomesticated July 6, 2012 at 4:23 am

Yum! I completely agree … all Italian food must be consumed with a nice glass of wine!


Molly@RDexposed July 6, 2012 at 4:34 am

Oh comic sans!! I had a professor who ALWAYS used that font.
I’m plotting the perfect time to make this recipe and freeze it when I will desperately need it.


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 6, 2012 at 4:35 am

LOL about the Comic Sans thing. I noticed yesterday that it was actually a trending topic on Twitter! I’ll admit I used to think it was pretty great back in the day too, and now can’t stand it. Spinach stuffed into pasta however, now that, I love. Great photos!


Julia H. @ Going Gulia July 6, 2012 at 4:43 am

Ooooooooh these look so good. I like the idea you mentioned to add a bit of chicken sausage to the sauce, though I’m sure these are delicious without it!


Sonal July 6, 2012 at 4:47 am

Mmmm I have to admitt i am obsessed with the dairy free shells, so i have no doubt these will be amazing 🙂


Annie @ What's Annie Making? July 6, 2012 at 4:58 am

These look incredible! I love the vegan version, but being from Wisconsin I can’t go cheese-less for too long. Thanks for the re-post 🙂


Devon | the food bitch blog July 6, 2012 at 5:08 am

These look fantastic, but I’m really glad you linked to the dairy-free ones! I had to give up most dairy because it makes my skin break out 🙁 I miss cheese.


amy walters, aDESIGNdock July 6, 2012 at 5:28 am

Mmm…definitely worth the re-post Jenna. And I love that you managed to throw in Velveeta cheese. LOL. My Dad and I used to love gobbling this stuff up (much to my mother’s chagrin) – aaah, such fond memories ; )


Ali @ Gimme Some Oven July 6, 2012 at 5:43 am

Ha! Oh my goodness…I used to write EVERYTHING in Comic Sans!!!

These look delicious! I definitely have options for my vegan and gluten-free friends, but so love the originals too. Yum! 🙂


joelle (on a pink typewriter) July 6, 2012 at 5:45 am

Oh man is it weird that I actually remember you posting the original recipe back in’09? Haha I feel like I have to meet you one of these days after reading about your life for sooo darn long on the blog. Either way, these looks yummy!


JENNA July 6, 2012 at 5:46 am

what brand of sauce did you use? when it’s not homemade i have the hardest time finding a good marinara. this looks delish.


elizabeth @ chronic venture July 6, 2012 at 5:47 am

stuffed shells are one of my all time favorites! Thanks for re-posting this!!


Gina @ Running to the Kitchen July 6, 2012 at 6:16 am

Stuffed shells are so worth the mess of filling them. Cheesy, tomato-y love 🙂


Kim @ The Family Practice July 6, 2012 at 6:31 am

I like the simple ingredient list! Easy, simple and yet looks wonderful 🙂


Amanda July 6, 2012 at 6:38 am

I make something similar but with pesto instead of spinach – so good!


Liz July 6, 2012 at 6:39 am

Woah! This look fabulous!


Laurie Jamieson July 6, 2012 at 7:02 am

Hi Jenna!
The recipe looks good but….if you wanted to substitute the cottage cheese what would you use.


jenna July 6, 2012 at 7:06 am

I recommend keeping the cottage cheese in there and not modifying, but I’m guessing you could try using more ricotta in place of it (I haven’t tried this so I can’t guarantee it will work).


Cait's Plate July 6, 2012 at 7:06 am

Stuffed shells are on my “to-make” list. I am definitely printing out this recipe!


Allyn July 6, 2012 at 7:19 am

Oh man. I know you have the vegan recipe, and I should make them for my dairy allergic husband, but I WANT THESE. Oh riccota, I miss you so. I’ve managed to veganize some of my other favorites (like vodka sauce, thank goodness: but sometimes… I just want the real deal. Cheese is a beautiful, beautiful thing.


Bakeaholic July 6, 2012 at 7:43 am

Yum. Love the stuffed shells idea. I need to change up my standard pasta lineup. This looks wonderful 🙂


Caroline L. July 6, 2012 at 7:49 am

Stuffed shells are always a good idea! Love this recipe, thanks so much for sharing 🙂


Meghan @ After the Ivy League July 6, 2012 at 8:00 am

How did you just make me crave a warm baked pasta dish even though it’s 90 degrees outside? Seriously all I want right now is some cozy and comforting stuffed shells!


Moni Meals July 6, 2012 at 8:16 am

You were not kidding about a cheesy recipe coming our way. 🙂 This looks like dynamite and absolutely needs to go with a good wine. 🙂


Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) July 6, 2012 at 8:28 am

Definitely feel you on the “no time to cook while in culinary school”–I felt the exact same way. It is so ironic!


Margarita July 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

Love how delicious and easy this is! Also love the cheese combination… Yum!


Gabby (Quest for Delicious) July 6, 2012 at 8:37 am

I’m a cheese lover, so I guess this recipe is for me! 🙂 Looks super good.


Joanna July 6, 2012 at 8:56 am

So funny. I had this meal for dinner last night. My filling was definitely lacking in the cheese department. Next time I make it I will up the cheese ante.


Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe July 6, 2012 at 9:12 am

I like the suggested pairing of buttery garlic bread and a big glass of red wine. THAT I can get down with. Happy Friday Jenna!


jenna k July 6, 2012 at 9:16 am

mmm, i’ve been wanting to make stuffed shells soon. but i have to wait another month, because i’m moving. [i like to freeze some when i make them, and i really don’t want to have to deal with toting around a dish of frozen stuffed shells on moving day 😉 ]
i’ve never done half ricotta and half cottage cheese, but i bet i will LOVE it that way!


Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out July 6, 2012 at 9:34 am


Seriously, I could die and go to cheese heaven right now.


Averie @ Averie Cooks July 6, 2012 at 9:53 am

After having a baby, any! kind of food anyone wants to make and bring would be welcome…especially these!!


Julia {The Roasted Root} July 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

Classic pasta dish! Pasta with red sauce and ricotta has always been one of my favorites…even though I’d totally eat your dairy-free version too (sounds delish), this recipe looks awesome!


Emily @ Munchies 'n' Marvels July 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Can’t go wrong with comfort food, especially comfort food paired with wine!

My brother pretty much lived on Kraft mac and cheese when he was in culinary school. That was all he could muster himself to make once he got home after staring at, like, figs and brie for 12 hours.


em @ simplypresent July 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm

This looks absolutely delicious! It seems fairly simple, too. Maybe I’ll try it out!


Kate July 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I actually have made this before based on your original 2009 post. It is a goodie!


Rachel @ Baked by Rachel July 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I love stuffed shells! So many possibilities and they’re all sooo good.


Jamie Tarence July 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Your site is one of my favorites! Lovely photos, yummy recipes, excellent commentary. Keep up the good work!


Erin Motz July 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

You had me at “For all the cheese lovers…” Pinned!


Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 6, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I’m thrilled you decided to re-post this recipe – I love stuffed shells and can’t remember the last time I had them. I think these are going on the dinner menu for next week 🙂


Chelsea @ Chelsea's Lovelys July 6, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Wow, these look quite tasty! I was looking over old recipes, trying to come up with things to make over the weekend, and this will definitely be one of them! 🙂


Sarah July 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm

This recipe looks great! I wanted to pin this on pinterest but on your FAQ you ask that your photos not be used on other sites. Just wondered if this included pinterest if linked back to your blog? I read your blog often and like to save recipes for future use. Thanks!


jenna July 7, 2012 at 8:22 am

Pinterest is fine, thanks for asking!


Katrina July 7, 2012 at 4:55 am

These look so dang delicious! Awesome!


Suzanne Holt July 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I am definitely one of those cheese-lovers! I love it when I find these recipes– my family will be enjoying Italian food tomorrow night!


Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See July 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Stuffed shells always remind me of my grandma! She was the biggest proponent of ricotta cheese I know of 😉


jessie July 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Mmm… they look delicious! I absolutely love how there are so many different ways to make Stuffed Shells!! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe 🙂

Have a great weekend!


Bev @ Bev Cooks July 8, 2012 at 7:52 am

Um, I die.


Michele July 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I just made these and they are aaaaaaaaaaaaamazing!! I was skeptical at first about the cottage cheese but man, it was amazing.


laura k July 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I love stuffed shells and haven’t made them in ages. I’ve never made them with cottage cheese but now I’m intrigued. I think they’re going on the list.


Sarah Friedlander July 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe – absolutely delicious!


Louise July 19, 2012 at 11:41 am

Have these ready to pop into the oven, just as soon as I hear from my son, who is visiting; haven’t seen him in two years. Think this is the perfect dish to welcome him. Thanks for sharing it!


Lea January 24, 2013 at 8:49 am

I made these last night, after making stop at 3 different grocery stores to look for jumbo shells. Worth it. The nutmeg makes this recipe.


Beatrice Flakes February 1, 2013 at 11:52 am

I made these last night and added a lil bit of diced italian sausage and boy it was delish!!!! I posted it and my friends want the recipe, I want to share this! Very tasty and simple dish!!!!


Kat Prince February 11, 2013 at 10:50 am

I made this today with my daughter, she is so proud to have done this and they turned out fantastic!


Kathleen August 12, 2013 at 6:11 am

Could I use just spinach in a bag or do I need frozen spinach?


Allison October 19, 2013 at 7:16 pm

So delish! Made a 9 x12 to eat and a largish Corning wear casserole to freeze. Fussy 17 who would never eat cottage cheese, cleaned his plate! Excellent recipe and so easy to put together.


Simona November 3, 2013 at 2:29 am

I usually make them with lasagna’s filling, this is a good alternative! Thank you!


Abbey November 4, 2013 at 11:55 am

Not that you can do anything about this, but I thought I’d
Share that I have looked for jumbo shells at two
Large grocery stores and haven’t been able to find them!
Are they hard to find in general? So weird.


Tomato Sauce November 13, 2013 at 5:02 am

Useful information. Fortunate me I discovered your web site accidentally, and I am surprised why this coincidence didn’t took place in advance! I bookmarked it.


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