Ricotta and spinach stuffed shells

May 28, 2016 Published by Dina

Twice during our stay in Italy I had stuffed and baked pasta for an elegant first course, and both times it happened in spa resorts: once at Castelo di Velona in Montalcino and next at the Adler Thermae Spa in Bagno Vignoni. Those dishes stuck in my mind as memorable and today I thought I’d try and create something similar at home. Aside from the wonderful flavours, I like the minimalist approach in terms of quantity and presentation. See images below.

I don’t remember exactly what the pasta was filled with at Castelo di Velona but the it was tube shaped and had delicious crisp bread crumbs over. At the Adler it was shells stuffed with courgettes and aubergines (zucchini and eggplant) and served over a light buffalo mozzarella cream. Oh, I wish I was back there right now.

Today I used medium size shells and filled them with a mixture of ricotta, spinach and parmesan with a little boursin I had lingering in the fridge. To serve I floated them on a cream sauce into which I melted shredded parmesan. For us this was main course, together with a chopped vegetables salad dressed in  a simple vinaigrette. I can think of all kinds of fillings for this type of dish, depending on the season and this would be good also served with tomato or roasted pepper sauce instead of the cream.

Shells stuffed with ricotta

Shells stuffed with ricotta



12 medium pasta shells


1 container ricotta
1/2 pepper Boursin cheese, crumbled
1 cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
1 egg

1/2 cup or so grated mozzarella for topping


1 cup cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper



Place the spinach in microwavable dish and microwave just until wilted. Squeeze out excess liquid and chop finely.

Combine the filling ingredients together with the spinach.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a large pinch of salt.

Add pasta and cook until barely al dente, according to package directions. Do not overcook.

While the pasta is cooking bring the cream and cheese to a simmer until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. If it is too thick you can thin it out with more cream or water.

When the shells are cooked, drain and then using a spoon fill each shell to the top, then sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella.

Arrange the shells on a baking pan and bake in a 400°F oven until lightly crisp and golden on top.

To serve, spoon some of the sauce on the bottom of the plates (use shallow bowls) and lay the cooked shells on top.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.

Stuffed shells at Adler Tjermae Resort, Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany

Stuffed shells at Adler Termae Resort, Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany

Stuffed pasta tubes at Castelo di, Montalcino

Stuffed pasta tubes at Castelo di Velona, Montalcino





  • gaby says:

    yours look even better!!!!

    remeind me to tell youa story about passata….

  • Colleen says:

    Oh my goodness this looks so delicious, Dina I will for sure be cooking this wonderful recipe. I love pasta, and cheese, and spinach, so this is perfectly mouth watering! Thank you!

  • Dina that’s what my shells should have looked like instead of the cheesiest mess I had the next day. No one here knows how to cook Italian so mama rosa is fine I guess as what else is there. Glen and I panted onerous 600 hundred plants for Marina with a lot of help actually we were the first weenies to leave. ,,my back hurt. Oi oi oi , I so out of shape but i was fun before we cratered ,,love ly blog as alway. We met the guy from Jordan ,he is Marinas boss at Play. their opening is next weekend so we will,see. I have been drinking their wine through marina and I really like it says a very proud mother,,,talk to you soon ,,not the right venue here lots of love. Me

    • Dina says:

      Hi Marisa, how exciting to plant a vineyard with Marina. I am sure it was s back breaking labour. Can’t wait to try the wine. Talk soon.