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Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce made with jumbo pasta shells stuffed with ricotta , mozzarella and spinach in a ground turkey meat sauce. Healthy, high protein and family friendly!
Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce
Stuffed shells with meat sauce is a classic Italian-American dish that combines pasta, ricotta cheese, and a hearty meat sauce to create a flavorful and filling meal. I make it leaner with ground turkey and to add nutrients, I add spinach to the filling. This dish can be made ahead of time and is perfect for serving a large group or if you need a family dinner idea.
Ingredients for Stuffed Shells with Meat
- Jumbo Pasta Shells (e.g. Barilla or gluten-free pasta)
- Onion, finely chopped
- Garlic cloves, chopped
- Olive oil
- Lean ground turkey (either 99% or 93% lean) or ground beef
- Crushed tomatoes (e.g. Tuttorosso)
- Fresh basil, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Part-skim ricotta cheese
- Part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Large egg
- Frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed
- Parmigiano Reggiano or parmesan cheese
How To Make Stuffed Shells with Ricotta and Meat Sauce
- Cook the jumbo pasta shells according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, saute onions and garlic in oil. Add the ground meat and salt and brown until cooked, breaking up in small pieces with a wooden spoon. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil, then simmer on low, covered, about 15 minutes, until the flavors meld.
- In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, egg, spinach, mozzarella, and parmesan.
- Once shells are cooked and cool, fill each shell with (about 2 heaping tbsp) cheese mixture and place on a large baking dish, or two smaller dishes, covering the bottom of the dish with a little sauce.
- Preheat oven to 375F. Top shells with half of the sauce, cover with foil and bake 40 minutes; uncover foil and bake 5 more minutes. Serve with additional sauce on top and garnish with fresh basil, if desired.
Variations and Tips
- For a vegetarian version, omit the ground turkey in the meat sauce or use veggie crumbles instead.
- If you’re not a fan of ground turkey you can use ground beef or ground chicken instead.
- You can prepare the meat sauce and the ricotta filling a day ahead to save time.
Stuffed Shells Storage and Freezer Tips
Stuffed shells freeze well. Assemble the dish, cover tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, and freeze. To bake, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed. (You can see more freezer meals here).
What to Serve with Stuffed Shells:
Enjoy stuffed shells with a side salad and some crusty garlic bread for a complete dinner.
More Pasta Recipes
Prep: 25 minutes mins
Cook: 1 hour hr 15 minutes mins
Total: 1 hour hr 40 minutes mins
Yield: 9 servings
Serving Size: 3 stuffed shells
- ▢ 27 Jumbo Pasta Shells, such as barilla, or gf pasta, 9 ounces total
- ▢ 1 cup onion, finely chopped
- ▢ 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- ▢ 1 tsp olive oil
- ▢ 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey, or 93% lean
- ▢ 32 oz crushed tomatoes, I used Tuttorosso
- ▢ 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- ▢ salt and pepper, to taste
- ▢ 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- ▢ 8 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ▢ 1 large egg
- ▢ 16 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed well
- ▢ 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, or parmesan cheese
Prepare the Meat Sauce:
Meanwhile, saute onions and garlic in oil.
Add the ground turkey and salt and brown until cooked, breaking up in small pieces with a wooden spoon.
Stir in the tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil, then simmer on low, covered, about 15 minutes, until the flavors meld.
Prepare the Cheese Filling:
In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, egg, spinach, mozzarella, and parmesan.
Assemble The Stuffed Shells
Once shells are cooked and cool, fill each shell with (about 2 heaping tbsp) cheese mixture and place on a large baking dish, or two smaller dishes, covering the bottom of the dish with a little sauce.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Top shells with half of the sauce, cover with foil and bake 40 minutes; uncover foil and bake 5 more minutes.
Serve with additional sauce on top and garnish with fresh basil, if desired.
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Serving: 3 stuffed shells, Calories: 360.9 kcal, Carbohydrates: 34.3 g, Protein: 28.4 g, Fat: 12.8 g, Saturated Fat: 3.7 g, Cholesterol: 72.5 mg, Sodium: 375 mg, Fiber: 3.3 g, Sugar: 0.5 g