Marvelous Mascarpone Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Ricotta

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Sneak Preview: The secret to this marvelous Mascarpone Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Ricotta is the Mascarpone cheese. It makes this vegetarian entree especially rich and flavorful.

CHEESY SPINACH AND MUSHROOM STUFFED SHELLS--ready to eat in a casserole dish

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For a while, no-meat or meatless Mondays were quite popular. Arbitrary rules like that don’t work for me, but the occasional meatless meal is a nice change. Do you enjoy a meal without meat? If so, this recipe is for you.

Can you guess the most challenging part of making this recipe? Finding the ingredients. But don’t let that discourage you. I’ve listed some hints. Besides that, you probably already have one of these ingredients, which may have motivated you to look for a suitable recipe. So you’re off to a good start.

The biggest challenge might be laying hands on the jumbo shells in the grocery store. I usually have good luck at my local Krogers. Don’t forget to try online if all else fails.

The second challenge is locating the Mascarpone cheese. Look for it in the deli section, not the regular cheese section where the more common Cheddar and Mozzarella hang out.

Once you’ve gathered the ingredients, assembling this dish is pretty simple.  It’s less complicated than lasagna in my book.

The easiest part, of course, is eating it.

Who can resist gooey cheese, luxurious Mascarpone, flavorful spinach and mushrooms, and pasta shells bathed in your favorite marinara?

Ingredients and common substitutions:

  • Jumbo shells-If you can’t find jumbo shells, try manicotti. It won’t look the same, but the taste will be similar.
  • Butter: Margarine or vegetable oil can substitute for butter.
  • Mushrooms: Since you went to the expense of buying Mascarpone cheese, I hope you’ll use fresh mushrooms. It’s worth it.
  • Fresh baby spinach: A 10-ounce package of frozen spinach is another option. Cook as directed on the package. As usual with spinach, squeeze the water out after you defrost the spinach.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic has the most flavor. Bottled garlic is also appropriate.
  • Ricotta cheese: Cottage cheese is a common replacement for ricotta.
  • Mascarpone cheese: Mascarpone makes this recipe special. Creme Fraiche is the best substitute. Cream cheese is a possible alternative, particularly if you add a bit of sour cream to lighten the texture.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano: Romano cheese will serve the purpose if you can’t get Parmigiano Reggiano.
  • Mozzarella cheese or pizza cheese is the glue that holds the filling together.
  • Marinara or spaghetti sauce is the most convenient choice. You could make your own sauce if you like.

📌Kitchen Secret for Stuffing the Shells📌

After boiling, the shells are easy to stuff. Use surgical gloves if messy mixtures gross you out.

Grate the Mozzarella and Parmesan for better melting.

Frequently asked questions about Mascarpone Stuffed Shells:

Can I freeze this recipe ahead of time?

These stuffed shells are a good freezer meal. Prepare the recipe as listed. Double wrap and keep in the freezer for a month to six weeks. When ready to bake, place the casserole in the refrigerator to thaw the night before. The following day, cover with foil bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and finish baking until the cheese starts to brown.

Can I add meat to this recipe?

Chicken or Italian sausage would pump up the protein numbers and expand the flavor profile. Ground beef is another possibility.

Can I leave out the spinach and mushrooms?

Leave out the spinach and mushrooms if they aren’t your favorite. Then you could call these “Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells.”

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Parting Thoughts: I’m not a big pasta girl, so that’s a clue. Any pasta recipe you find on my website is a good one. This Cream Cheese Baked Spaghetti has ingredients that are easier to find if you don’t have good luck gathering what you need for this recipe


If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula

Cheesy Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

Cheesy Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells are filled with spinach, mushroom, ricotta, Mascarpone, Mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Vegetables and Side Dishes
Servings 5 -6 servings

Ingredients

  • ½ box jumbo shells
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms - chopped
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach - small bag
  • 1 clove garlic - crushed
  • 1⅓ cup ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese - shredded and divided
  • 8 ounces Mozzarella cheese - shredded and divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 24-ounce jar marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water

Instructions
 

  • Cook shells in boiling water for 9 minutes. Stir several times to keep them from sticking to the bottom. Drain and place on a cookie sheet to cool.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet and add mushrooms. Saute until browned. Remove from pan to medium mixing bowl. Add spinach and garlic to a hot skillet and saute until wilted. Drain well in a colander, pressing with the back of a spoon to remove as much moisture as possible. Chop and add to mushrooms.
  • Combine ricotta, Mascarpone, half of the Parmesan, and half of the Mozzarella with spinach and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Fill each shell with spinach and mushroom and cheese mixture.
  • Add water to half of the prepared sauce and pour it into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch dish. Place shells on top of the sauce, open side up.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the shells. Sprinkle remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan over shells
  • Bake at 400˚F for 30 minutes.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Cheesy Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells
Serving Size
 
1
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
683
Calories from Fat 414
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
46
g
71
%
Saturated Fat
 
28
g
175
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Cholesterol
 
131
mg
44
%
Sodium
 
726
mg
32
%
Carbohydrates
 
32
g
11
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
2
g
2
%
Protein
 
34
g
68
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Author: Paula Rhodes
Course: Vegetables and Side Dishes
Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: jumbo pasta shells, spinach, mascarpone stuffed shells, stuffed pasta shells, vegetarian stuffed shells
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15 Comments

  1. Looks tasty! Have you tried making your own mascarpone? It’s on our list to try because its so expensive. I’m looking forward to your post on ricotta from whey. We’ve tried making ricotta from the whey left after making mozzarella without much success.

    1. Hey Gina,
      Haven’t tried making mascarpone. I don’t need to be eating this stuff very often so the price is worth the occasional treat. Also haven’t tried making Mozzarella. Would love to try yours.

      1. I used my mom’s Matfer strainer making mozzarella earlier this week, and finally decided to break down and get one. Ordered it tonight and will have it by Tuesday. I tried straining my yogurt a couple of weeks ago to see if I liked it better, and it was really good. Thanks for all the good advice!

  2. My husband would love these just as they are and I would love them stuffed with bits of chicken. Great that this is freezable! Perfect for taking to a friend/neighbour in need 🙂

  3. Paul: I love stuffed shells and this looks delicious! Great recipe as is or as a springboard for adding more “stuff” (couldn’t resist the pun) such as sausage. As always…beautiful pics.

  4. OMG! This looks delish! I’m going to the store later, so this will definitely be on my grocery list! Thanks!

  5. I made these tonight, and you were right, I had to go to two stores before I could find the shells…I doubled the recipe bc I only have 8×11 dish pans and I wanted to freeze some for later (not realizing how much this made…we got through half a pan with a family of 5)… anyway, I inadvertently used only one 8 oz mascarpone for both batches combined…but it still came out DELICIOUS!! Thanks again for posting such yummy thungs! I have a hard time trusting cookbooks, but I know when I pick something off of your aite to make, it’s going to be awesome! Thanks again!

  6. Sandy Coughlin says:

    This would be perfect for a dinner party! I’ll definitely have to try it. Thanks!

    1. Sandy,
      I agree. This dish is company-worthy and fairly rich so you wouldn’t want to be eating it every day. 🙂

  7. These are on the menu for next week. I’ll definitely be adding Sweet Italian Sausage since my husband pouts when I give him meatless dinners. =)

  8. Mushrooms Canada says:

    This recipe is just too amazing! Flavours we all love with a more simplistic take. Thanks for sharing!!

    -Shannon

  9. I can say this was spectacular! It made enough for me to offer some to my mother in law and a few for leftovers on this back to school night!!! And I’m *very* excited about your next post about ricotta cheese from yogurt whey!! Since I saved mine from the last batch earlier this week!

    1. Watch for ricotta cheese this weekend.

  10. I love this recipe. I have made it several times. I add a 2 ounce bag of pine nuts to the ricotta and spinach mixture. It gives it a nice, unexpected crunch. Thanks for all of your great recipes.

    1. I’m so glad you wrote, Patti. Gotta try your idea with the pine nuts. Genius! Thank you for your kind words. Have a great week.