Stuffed Shells Recipe – Vegetable Packed!

This stuffed shells recipe is not only cheesy and delicious but it’s also full of vegetables so you can feel good about eating it too!

Vegetable Packed Stuffed Shells - Loaded up delicious stuffed pasta shells - with lots of cheese too, of course! Find the recipe on RachelCooks.com

I have a habit of putting extra vegetables in juuuuuuust about everything. I can’t help myself.

A) It’s a good habit to be in.

B) It cleans out my fridge.

C) It gives us extra nutrition.

D) It tastes great!

The other day I was talking to my daughter (she’s four now!) and I asked her a question. I don’t remember what it was about anymore but she proceeded to state her reasoning this way:

“Well, for one _____. Two, _____. And three, ______.”

My lists are rubbing off on her.

IMG_1153

I love that little stinker.

Anyways, back to the stuffed shells. I love this meal because it’s a good balance of decadence and nutrition. Yeah, it’s pasta and cheese. But you’re also getting tons of lean protein and colorful vegetables in there too. (PS: If you can find jumbo shells in whole wheat, let me know what brand!).

I also like these stuffed shells because they look pretty impressive (well, maybe not in my photos), but they really are fairly simple to make. The sauce is like any other spaghetti or pasta sauce – not that difficult and easy to customize to the tastes of your family and/or friends. The filling is easy too – I used cottage cheese and pureed it for an ultra silky texture, not grainy like ricotta can tend to be. Fill up the shells, cover with sauce and more cheese and bake. You could even make this ahead of time and refrigerate until you are ready to bake them.

Vegetable Packed Stuffed Shells Recipe - Get it on RachelCooks.com

I love the picture above because it shows all the vegetable goodness of this stuffed shells recipe – mushrooms, spinach, carrots, tomatoes of course, red bell peppers, onions.

And then you cut into them and there is a wealth of delicious, gooey cheese (3 types!). Of course, the cheese is also seasoned and flavored with fresh parsley.

Vegetable Packed Stuffed Shells Recipe - Get it on RachelCooks.com

If you’re feeling swamped and this sounds like way too much fuss (I totally get it!) – this sauce would be amazing poured over some cheese ravioli that you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store. And if you’re feeling like you have a tiny bit of energy, you could pour the sauce over the ravioli, sprinkle some mozzarella on top, and bake that until bubbly and golden. Yum.

Enjoy!

Used in this recipe:

Vegetable Packed Stuffed Shells

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
This stuffed shells recipe is not only cheesy and delicious but it’s also full of vegetables so you can feel good about eating it too!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounce box of jumbo shell pasta, cooked according to package, drained, and cooled on a  sheet pan

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 19.5 ounces of Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage (5 sausages) – casings removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 2 medium carrots, diced small
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 28-29 ounces diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Filling:

  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese (I use part-skim)
  • 8 ounces mozzarella (I used Kraft shredded with a touch of Philadelphia Cream Cheese)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces shredded parmesan, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. While pasta is cooking, begin to prepare sauce. In a very large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat butter and olive oil until butter is melted and is starting to bubble.
  3. Add sausage, onion, bell pepper, and carrots. Sauté until sausage is cooked through and no longer pink, breaking it up as you go. Add mushrooms and continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked. Add in garlic and stir to combine. Add spinach, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Stir to combine.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, oregano, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Cook at a rapid simmer (medium heat) for about 20 minutes or until slightly reduced and thickened. Taste and season as needed.
  5. For the filling, mix together ricotta, mozzarella, parsley, egg, pepper and HALF of the parmesan until combined. Fill the shells evenly (I didn’t use all the shells). Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread half of sauce in the bottom of the pan. On top of the sauce, place the shells. On top of the shells, pour over the remainder of the sauce. Top with remaining parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. If cheese is browning too quickly, cover with foil (spray the underside of the foil so the cheese doesn’t stick to it).

Notes

Note: My pan was filled to the brim. In order to protect the cleanliness of my oven, I placed the pan of stuffed shells on top of a foil-lined baking sheet to catch any sauce that might bubble over. Note: serving size 4 stuffed shells and sauce

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/8th of recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 645 Total Fat: 30g Saturated Fat: 15g Cholesterol: 147mg Carbohydrates: 48g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 9g Protein: 45g
Vegetable Packed Stuffed Shells Recipe - Get it on RachelCooks.com

 

Verdict: Loved these and will definitely make again.
Husband’s take: He loved this stuffed shells recipe. No complaints were heard!
Changes I would make: None are necessary – but I’ve been known to throw whatever veggies I have in the fridge into the sauce.
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate.

Craving more pasta? I don’t blame you! Try:

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11 comments

  1. I love any recipe that includes a ton of veggies :) And I agree it helps clean out the fridge before veggies go to waste!

  2. Yum Rachel! Pasta is my one of my faves, love how this is loaded with veggies so that I can eat a giant serving and not feel guilty!

  3. These shells are stuffed with some seriously yummy goodness! My mouth is watering… :)

  4. Just curious the nutrition information for this… Seems like it could be high because of the cheese.. but all those veggies may balance it out???

  5. The more vegetables, the better!! Dying for this!

  6. This looks so good. I’m all about adding as many veggies as possible!
    p.s. Your daughter is ADORABLE!

  7. This looks absolutely delicious! I love that it’s packed with veggies and still seems a little indulgent and cheesy!

  8. Oh my gosh I may die if I don’t make this yesterday.

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