Indulgent Stuffed Pasta Shells from Italy’s Heartland

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Indulge in the rich flavors of Tuscany with these sumptuous stuffed pasta shells, generously filled with a decadent cheese mixture and baked to perfection in a creamy sauce, crowned with melted mozzarella.

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Indulgent Stuffed Pasta Shells from Italy's Heartland

Ingredients for Tuscan Stuffed Shells

  • Filling: A harmonious blend of five cheeses – ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, romano, and cream cheese – forms the luxurious filling.
  • Pasta: Approximately 20 large pasta shells are filled with the tantalizing five-cheese mixture. Alternatively, jumbo shells can be used, though the quantity of filling may vary. Boil the shells for about 4 minutes until partially cooked, as they will continue to cook in the oven.
  • Sauce: A velvety cream sauce infused with the richness of sun-dried tomatoes and the earthiness of spinach complements the stuffed shells perfectly. Preparing the sun-dried tomatoes involves softening them to ensure they meld seamlessly into the sauce.
  • Cheese: A generous sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese crowns the shells, adding an extra layer of gooey cheesiness.

Indulgent Stuffed Pasta Shells from Italy's Heartland

Softening Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Before incorporating sun-dried tomatoes into the sauce, it’s crucial to soften and chop them. Here’s how:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add the sun-dried tomatoes to the boiling water, cover the pot, and simmer for approximately 3 minutes.
  3. Drain the softened tomatoes and let them cool before chopping. Set aside until ready to use.

Indulgent Stuffed Pasta Shells from Italy's Heartland

Freezing Instructions

To freeze this delectable dish:

  1. Prepare the stuffed shells following the instructions but refrain from baking.
  2. Place the stuffed shells in a 9×13-inch aluminum pan, cover with aluminum foil, and label with the dish’s name, instructions, and date.
  3. When ready to bake, remove from the freezer, uncover, and bake. Adjust the cooking time as necessary when baking from frozen. Properly stored, this dish will last up to 3 months in the freezer.

Indulgent Stuffed Pasta Shells from Italy's Heartland



  • 6 ounces large pasta shells (approximately 20 shells)


  • 1 cup (250 g) ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup (60 g) mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ cup (50 g) parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ cup (50 g) romano cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, finely diced


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup (30 g) sun-dried tomatoes, softened in hot water and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (240 g) chicken broth
  • 1 cup (240 g) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (30 g) fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ cup (25 g) parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup (115 g) mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Fresh basil, chopped (for garnish)

Indulgent Stuffed Pasta Shells from Italy's Heartland


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Pasta: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta for 4 minutes less than the instructions on the box. Drain and let cool.
  3. Filling: In a medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Transfer mixture to a piping bag.
  4. Once noodles are cooled, use the piping bag to fill them with the cheese mixture. Set aside.
  5. Sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  6. Add softened sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  7. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add chicken broth, stirring constantly. Add heavy cream, spinach, and parmesan cheese. Cook until spinach is wilted, about 3-5 minutes.
  8. Assembly: In a 12-inch cast-iron or oven-safe skillet, spread 1 cup of sauce. Arrange stuffed noodles over the sauce and cover with the remaining sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
  10. Garnish with chopped fresh basil before serving. Enjoy your taste of Tuscany!

Indulgent Stuffed Pasta Shells from Italy's Heartland

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