These Cheesy Vegetarian Stuffed Shells are a classic pasta dish and the ultimate comfort food. This version is includes mushrooms in the sauce and the shells are stuffed with cheese.
Update: This recipe was originally shared in February 2012. The recipe has been updated for clarity and new pictures added and reposted in January 2021.
When you need a dinner recipe that is sure to please everyone, turn to stuffed shells! They're such a popular recipe because they're easy to make and easy to adapt to your tastes. Who doesn't love pasta and cheese?
🥘 Ingredients for this recipe
- Pasta: jumbo pasta shells
- Dairy: eggs, Parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella
- Spices and Herbs: garlic, crushed red pepper, parsley, salt and pepper
- Vegetables: mushrooms
- Sauce: marinara or spaghetti
🔪Instructions for this recipe
- First, boil your pasta. Add shells to salted water and boil until al dente, usually 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Then, prepare your filling and sauce. Combine cheeses, egg, spices and herbs together in a medium bowl. Roughly chop your mushrooms and stir them together in another bowl with the sauce.
- Next, assemble the shells. Spread a layer of the sauce into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Fill each shell with a tablespoon of cheese filling and place open side down into the dish. Repeat with remaining shells until the dish is full. Spread the remaining sauce on top and then sprinkle cheese and parsley on top.
- Finally, bake the shells. Bake shells at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Optionally, turn on your broiler for a minute or two to get the cheese browned and crispy. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes and then cut into squares and plate.
FAQ's for making stuffed shells
- How long do I cook the shells? The shells should be al dente, meaning they aren't completely soft. This is because they'll continue cooking in the oven and no one likes mushy shells.
- Can I freeze stuffed shells? Absolutely! Once the dish is a cooked, transfer them to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Can I make stuffed shells in advance? Yep! The boiled shells and sauce can be made, cooled and refrigerated overnight. Or, the entire dish can be prepared, covered with foil and refrigerated for 8-10 hours before baking. You'll likely need to add 10-15 minutes to the bake time since the ingredients will be cold.
- How long can stuffed shells sit out? Like most prepared foods, 2 hours at room temperature is the max amount of time before they need to be refrigerated. Once refrigerated, stuffed shells will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Substitutions and Serving Suggestions
- Mushrooms: Not a fan? Replace mushrooms with bell pepper, onion, or zucchini. Or feel free to add them to the mushrooms for a hearty, veggie filled sauce.
- Need meat? No problem! Crumbled ground beef, ground turkey or even sausage would be a great addition to the sauce.
- Cheese: As a kid, I hated the texture of ricotta cheese, so I wouldn't eat stuffed shells. If you're not a fan of it either, ricotta cheese can be replaced with cottage cheese or even cream cheese. In addition to, or instead of mozzarella, you can also use provolone or fontina. Parmesan can be replaced with romano.
- Serving Suggestions: garlic bread is the perfect side dish to stuffed shells. And of course, a hearty green salad with Italian, or your favorite dressing.
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Cheesy Vegetarian Stuffed Shells
- 24 jumbo stuffed shells
For the Filling
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
For the Sauce
- 16 oz marinara sauce
- 8 oz mushrooms chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Bring 8 cups of water with 1 tablespoon salt to a boil.
- While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the sauce by combining the mushrooms and marinara sauce in a medium bowl.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook until al dente, usually about 8 minutes. Drain completely.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the filling by combining the eggs, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the parsley in a large bowl and set aside.
- Spread half of the mushroom-marinara sauce into the prepared baking dish.
- Fill each shell with 1 tablespoon of the cheese filling and place open side down into the sauce. Repeat with remaining shells until dish is full.
- Spread the remaining sauce on top of the shells and then top with the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the parsley on top.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Optionally, turn on the broiler for a minute or two, to get the cheese browned and crispy.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. Sprinkle with additional parsley if desired.
Recipes on Cookaholic Wife are for information purposes only. Nutritional Data provided has not been evaluated by a nutritionist.
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