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These stuffed pasta shells are a perfect easy dinner for two! They’re packed full of pesto, spinach, roasted red peppers and mini mozzarella balls. This means that they’re suitable for vegetarians, as well as super delicious and comforting! They’re baked in a homemade tomato sauce with plenty of herbs and gorgeous tomato flavours for maximum deliciousness.
This week, I’ve been off school for the Easter holidays, which means I’ve been testing a ton of recipes as well as revising for my exams in a couple of months! So far, all these recipes have been a great success! In fact, here are a handful of them:
- fudgy cinnamon and white chocolate blondies
- the ultimate chewy triple chunk cookies
- how to make risotto: the complete guide
- healthy veggie enchilada rice bowl
See, tons of recipe testing! So far this has meant that we’ve been taste-testing plenty of delicious food in our house, so really it’s been a win on all fronts (except when you remember that we don’t have a dishwasher – that part isn’t so fun!).
Next week’s recipe is actually going to be a bit special – it’s my birthday next Tuesday (the 23rd), so I’ll be posting our favourite no-bake lemon cheesecake with a chocolate hobnob crust – it’s so good that it’s the only type of cake I’ve had for my birthday for over four years now!
Make sure you follow me on social media (links in the sidebar and header) or subscribe by email in the sidebar (or here if you’re on mobile) to be notified for free when it goes live!
Now, on to these stuffed pasta shells with spinach, pesto, peppers and mozzarella. Honestly, the hardest part about this recipe is probably waiting for them to finish baking! It’s so easy! All you have to do is:
- cook your pasta shells according to packet instructions
- set your sauce simmering away to thicken
- get everything ready to put in the shells
- pour your sauce into the dish
- stuff the shells (just shove everything in there – I promise it’ll fit!)
- bake for 25 minutes
To speed it up even more, you can use a jarred pasta sauce. Personally, I find that this homemade one is so quick and easy that there’s no need, but if you’d like to save washing up the pan then, by all means, go for it!
This recipe is also freezer-friendly – you can bake it and then eat half, freezing the other half for later! When you’re ready to eat just defrost it and microwave until piping hot! This means that it’s also ideal for students or anyone who likes leftovers but doesn’t want to be stuck eating exactly the same dinner every day. Cook once, eat twice!
If you like the look of this but want a side dish to match then try these cheesy garlic butter pinwheels! They’re cheesy, buttery and honestly – what more could you possibly want?
Or, if you like them and are looking for a meatier pasta recipe then try my chilli, sausage and mozzarella pasta bake. It feeds around 6, but you can freeze it just the same so it’s absolutely perfect for meal prep!
This vegan Mediterranean cucumber salad would also be delicious as a side dish for this comforting and hearty dinner, although I know that most of you are after my own heart and prefer something buttery and cheesy!
To make these shells gluten-free, all you need is to buy gluten-free giant pasta shells. However, it’s always best to check that your other ingredients are completely safe – for all I know, your pesto could contain gluten somehow! Always read the packaging just to make sure!
In order to make these stuffed pasta shells, you only really need some basic kitchen equipment:
- a set of saucepans and a colander to cook and drain your pasta shells
- a large frying pan is plenty big enough for making your sauce – although a set may be best as you’ll need another one to cook your spinach
- a decent chef’s knife or knife set for chopping your onions – they make a big difference and they really don’t have to cost as much as you’d think
- a wooden cutting board – or one of these handy folding scoop ones (one of my best purchases!)
- a microplane or garlic press since mincing garlic cloves by hand can be kinda slow
- a silicone spoon is handy for stirring your sauce
- an oven-safe dish such as this one to bake your pasta shells in
If you’re in the UK, try some of this equipment:
For the Shells:
- 10 giant pasta shells
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 75 grams (3 cups) baby spinach
- 5 tsp pesto
- 1 large roasted red pepper (I used jarred), diced
- 10 mini mozzarella balls/pearls
- salt and pepper, to season
For the Tomato Sauce:
- 1/4 white/yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp double concentrate tomato puree
- 1 430g (14 oz) jar crushed tomatoes, passata rustica
- 1/4 tsp Italian herb seasoning
- salt and pepper, to season
For the shells:
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the shells in a pan of boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions. Once cooked, drain (reserving the water) and allow to cool enough to be handled.
- In a small pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil. Once hot, add the spinach and wilt. Season lightly. Remove from pan and on to kitchen towels to remove excess oil.
For the sauce:
- In a large pan over medium-low heat, add the garlic and onion. Saute for 3 minutes or until softened slightly. Add the tomato puree and stir, cook for 1 minute.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and 4 tbsp of reserved pasta water. Bring to a simmer and reduce for 15 minutes to thicken. Once thickened, remove from heat and pour into an oven-safe dish.
- In each pasta shell, place 1/2 tsp of pesto, a couple of leaves of wilted spinach, a couple of pieces of diced roasted pepper, and a mini mozzarella ball. Once filled, place in the dish containing the sauce. Once all shells are filled, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the sauce is thick, everything is cooked through, and the mozzarella is melted and golden-brown. Serve.
Jarred pasta sauce/marinara can be used in place of homemade.
This can be made in advance and reheated. Store it in the fridge or freezer once cooked and microwave to reheat. Always ensure all food is piping hot before eating and always follow food safety guidelines.
If you cannot buy mini mozzarella balls, use chunky-diced regular mozzarella instead.
Nutrition InformationYield 2 Serving Size 1/2 batch)
Amount Per Serving Calories 1505Total Fat 53gSaturated Fat 22gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 25gCholesterol 115mgSodium 1880mgCarbohydrates 190gFiber 16gSugar 18gProtein 69g
All nutrition values are an estimate and will vary.
If you’d like to try another of my vegetarian pasta recipes, this vegetable lasagne is a great one! It’s super cheesy and indulgent, but so packed full of veg that it still counts as healthy! Enjoy!
Or, for another cheesy, veggie comfort food, try my cheesy baked Italian rice – it’s rich, cheesy and also full of veg!
Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @crunchandcreamblog or twitter @crunchandcream if you try this recipe! You can also tag my facebook page in a photo! I always love seeing how my recipes turned out for you – it’s the best kind of feeling! I promise, even if your photos aren’t the best it’s always amazing to see other people making my recipes!