Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells with Sauce

  • Yield 10 servings
  • Prep 30 minutes
  • Cook 1 hour +

Pasta dinner done right. The whole family will love these stuffed-to-the-brim shells.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells from aspiring Chef Jack Witherspoon
Chronicle Books


Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound fresh spinach
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 cups ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. To prepare marinara sauce, heat olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, bouillon cubes, basil, oregano, parsley and sugar. Stir well. Simmer over low heat 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 6 cups.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Toss cooked pasta with olive oil and set aside.
  4. Combine spinach with 1/4 cup water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, covered, until spinach is wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well and squeeze spinach to remove excess moisture. Finely chop spinach.
  5. Combine mozzarella, ricotta, eggs, garlic, spinach 1/2 cup Parmesan, nutmeg and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir to blend. Generously stuff pasta shells with cheese mixture. Place stuffed shells in 2 (13 x 9-inch) baking dishes and cover with marinara sauce. Sprinkle evenly with remaining Parmesan cheese and parsley.
  6. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until  cheese is melted and sauce is hot and bubbly. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Jack Witherspoon’s Twist It Up (Chronicle Books, 2011).



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