Craving comfort food? Cure your cravings with these mouthwatering Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells! These cheesy shells are a dinner you'll look forward to eating all day!
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It's sweltering hot in Texas, but fall is officially here. I grew up in the Midwest, where fall meant crisp temperatures, cozy sweaters, and cute boots. Pretty much the opposite of this crazy Dallas heat. It should be cooling off soon, right?!?
To be honest, it will probably be at least another month until I can wear any of that, but there's always hope! In the meantime, I'm indulging in my other fall fave: comfort food.
These Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells are exactly what I've been craving lately. And I'm sure you're going to fall in love with this decadent dish, too!
Spinach and artichokes are an irresistible combination, and this tasty vegetarian baked pasta is one of the best ways to eat them. These Stuffed Shells are loaded with veggies and a wonderful combination of cheeses. They're super creamy and oh so delish!
This recipe is sure to cure all your comfort food cravings. Plus, it serves a crowd and is perfect for cozy fall dinner parties and family meals.
Have I tempted you to try this recipe? Then keep reading for all the delicious details!
You can find the ingredients for this recipe in any store. Here's what you'll need:
- Pasta - You'll need a box of jumbo pasta shells, an oversized pasta that's perfect for filling. I used these Barilla jumbo shells, and they worked perfectly!
- Veggies - The veggie filling is made with a combo of spinach sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes, as well as canned artichoke hearts.
- Cheese - You'll use a combo of ricotta cheese, parmesan, and Italian blend cheese, along with an egg, for the filling. Feel free to substitute mozzarella if your store doesn't carry an Italian blend.
- Sauce - The rich béchamel sauce is surprisingly easy to make! You'll use a combination of butter, garlic, flour, and milk (2% or whole works best). The white sauce (which tastes similar to Alfredo) is seasoned with a dash of nutmeg, as well as salt and pepper.
You'll Also Need
You'll need a large pot to cook the pasta and a large frying pan to cook the spinach (this Calphalon skillet is my fave). A fine mesh strainer is helpful for draining the veggies. You'll also need a large bowl to mix the filling, and a 9 x 13-inch baking dish to bake the pasta.
How to Make Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells
Let's talk about how to make stuffed shells. There are a few steps involved, but it's actually pretty simple. You'll find a detailed recipe card below, but here's an overview:
- Cook the shells. You'll start by cooking the pasta shells until they're just shy of al dente. They'll soften more while baking, so avoid overcooking them. I used Barilla jumbo shells, and followed the package directions, boiling them for about 9 minutes. Every brand is a little different though, so consult your box and test the shells, too. Tip: Don't worry if a few shells fall apart while cooking. You'll have more than enough even if you lose a few along the way.
- Prepare the filling. While the pasta cooks, you'll sauté the spinach and prep the artichokes. Then you'll combine the veggies with the ricotta, Italian cheeses, and an egg, which helps hold everything together. Tip: Make sure to drain as much excess water out of the spinach and artichokes as possible before combining them with the other ingredients. That way, your filling won't be soggy.
- Make the sauce. To make the sauce, start by melting butter in a large skillet, then stir in the garlic and cook until it's fragrant. Next, add the flour and cook it, stirring constantly, until it's golden. Whisk in the milk, then cook until thickened. Season with a dash of nutmeg and salt and pepper.
- Stuff the pasta. Spread half of the white sauce in the bottom of your baking dish. Then add a generous spoonful of the filling to the shells, and transfer them to the baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.
- Bake. Cover the pasta with foil, then bake until hot. Remove the foil, then continue cooking until the shells are golden brown in spots.
Time to eat your delicious dish! These Vegetarian Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Artichokes are a recipe you'll want to repeat all fall and winter long.
These Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells make a rich dinner. I'd suggest serving them with something light, like this Garden Salad, an Easy Chopped Salad, or my fave Kale Salad. It would also be delicious with homemade Garlic Bread, Roasted Root Vegetables, or these scrumptious Glazed Carrots!
This recipe tastes best fresh from the oven, but leftovers make a great lunch the next day, too! Store leftovers in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat gently in your microwave before eating.
Looking for more spinach and artichoke recipes? You'll love my Spinach and Artichoke Soup, Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese, and Green Pizza, too! If it's more comfort food you're after, don't miss these recipes:
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Veggie Pasta Bake
- Vegetable Crock Pot Lasagna
- Butternut Squash Lasagna
- Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Chili
- Rosemary Potato Soup
- Broccoli Mac and Cheese
Still hungry? Check out this roundup with over 100 amazing Vegetarian Comfort Food Recipes!
Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells
- 1 (12-ounce) package jumbo pasta shells
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
- ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
For White Sauce:
- 2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- dash nutmeg
- kosher salt
- nonstick cooking spray
- 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add shells and cook until almost al dente.
- Drain pasta, then place shells on a large baking sheet (so they won't stick together). Set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to oil and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Stir spinach into pan and cook until just wilted. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer spinach to a fine mesh strainer, then press out excess liquid with the back of a spoon.
- Drain artichokes in a strainer, as well, pressing out excess liquid. Place artichokes on a few layers of paper towel, then cover with more paper towels, and press out more liquid.
- Mix together ricotta, Parmesan, Italian blend cheese, egg, salt, and pepper. Then, stir in spinach and artichokes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
Prepare White Sauce:
- While pasta and spinach are cooking, heat milk in microwave until warm, about 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then stir in garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds), stirring constantly.
- Sprinkle flour over butter and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes or until golden.
- Whisking constantly, slowly add milk. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cook until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring frequently. Sauce should coat the back of a spoon when ready. Remove from heat, then add a dash of nutmeg and season generously with salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble Stuffed Shells:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan (or larger) with nonstick spray, then coat the bottom with about ½ of the white sauce.
- Fill shells with a generous spoonful of filling and place in baking pan. (Crowd shells together to fit pan, if necessary.)
- Pour remaining sauce over filled shells, then sprinkle with Italian blend cheese.
- Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until hot. Remove foil and continue baking until stuffed shells lightly golden in spots, about 5 to 10 minutes more.
- Serve shells hot, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!
What is your favorite fall comfort food?