This post was sponsored by Carando as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Hearty and delicious, 3-Cheese Spinach Stuffed Shells with Meatballs are a classic family favorite!
I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before, but growing up I hated pasta sauce. I refused to eat it in any shape or form, even on pizza! Yes, I was the odd kid out at birthday party’s and just about every other kind of party. I outgrew my distaste for sauce during a 10 year period as a vegetarian and then added meat back into my diet about 8 years ago.
This recipe for 3-Cheese Spinach Stuffed Shells is vegetarian on it’s own, but now I serve it with a side of Carando Meatballs (I found them in the fresh meat section of my local Food Lion). My fiancé and kids love it, so this easy recipe has become a regular weeknight meal in our home.
Purchasing Carando Meatballs from Food Lion while I’m doing my regular shopping makes preparing this meal even easier. They are pre-made meatballs that taste as good as homemade! The founder, Peter Carando, actually learned how to make sausage as an apprentice in an Italian butchershop. He then brought his authentic Italian recipes to America, where they are still used! Today, Carando is one the world’s finest purveyors of Italian deli meats.
There is currently a coupon offer for a FREE Private Label Pasta with the purchase of Carando Meatballs (up to $1.50 value) at Food Lion. Find it easily by typing “Carando” in the search box!
The rest of this recipe takes a little bit more work, but is still very easy!
3-Cheese Spinach Stuffed Shells with Meatballs
You will want to get a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil first. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, drain, and let cool.
In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375°F and make sure to have all your ingredients out and ready to go. Be sure your spinach is roughly chopped, the garlic is minced, and the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses are shredded.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook down for about 2-3 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and stir until well combined.
Stuff each shell with a large spoonful of the cheese mixture and place in a large baking dish.
Top with the pasta sauce of your choice.
Add additional cheese, if desired, and cover with foil.
Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
Halfway through baking the shells, place the Carando Meatballs in the oven as well. Turn after 10 minutes, and bake an additional 10 minutes. Toss with additional pasta sauce, if desired.
Top the baked pasta with fresh parsley.
Serve the meatballs alongside the 3-Cheese Spinach Stuffed Shells.
I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe! Don’t forget to print out your coupon for a FREE box of Private Label pasta with the purchase of Carando Meatballs available at Food Lion!
Three Cheese Stuffed Shells with Spinach
- 1 12 oz box jumbo shell pasta * gluten free, if needed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic * minced
- 3 cups spinach * roughly chopped
- 30 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese * shredded
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese * shredded
- 1/2 teaspoon salt * or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper * or to taste
- 4 cups pasta sauce
- fresh parsley * optional, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Start a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, drain, and let cool.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the spinach and cook down for about 2-3 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses. Add the spinach, mixture, salt and pepper, and stir until well combined.
- Stuff each shell with a large spoonful of the cheese mixture and place in a large baking dish.
- Top all of the stuffed pasta shells with the pasta sauce of your choice. Add additional cheese, if desired, and cover with foil.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
- Top the baked pasta with fresh parsley and serve.
Tips and Techniques for the Best Three Cheese Stuffed Shells
- I always recommend shredding cheese right from a block rather than using pre-shredded bags of cheese for the best melting and texture.
- Make this recipe gluten free simply by using gluten free jumbo shell pasta. I really like the Tinkyáda brand of gluten free pasta.
- Store leftovers in air-tight containers in the refrigerator. Use within 3-5 days.
- Can you freeze stuffed shells? Yes, you can freeze stuffed shells. Assemble the stuffed shells up until they are ready to be baked. Tightly cover them, place them in the freezer, and use within 3 months. You will have to increase the baking time 15-20 minutes when baking from frozen.
- Can you freeze ricotta and spinach filling? Yes. If you have leftover ricotta filling, you can freeze it, tightly covered, in the freezer for up to 6 months.