Ricotta and spinach stuffed shells with quick tomato sauce

May 30, 2016 Published by Dina 2 Comments

I made the previous stuffed shells recipe again, this time with a simple and quick tomato sauce. I must confess I am a tomato sauce gal more than cream sauce one, so I kinda like this one better. I thought I’d share it because we loved it.

What is so appealing about this recipe is that the shells are not cooked in the sauce but rather baked al forno until they get crisp and slightly browned on top. You serve them on top of the sauce so they are not swimming in it.

The shells are made the same way and the tomato sauce is a shortcut version using tomato passata, an item I always have on hand. It is very Italian and many cooks in Italy make their own. I buy it in a glass bottle and happy with the quality. Tomato passata is simply a puree of fresh tomatoes.

To make the sauce I heat up the passata and add a generous amount of just dried herbs from the garden. I pick up a few herbs and let them sit on a tray on my countertop and when they dry in a day or two I crumble them together into soups, sauces etc.

To thicken the sauce and make it a little chunky I add a few small tomatoes (I used Campari variety, larger than cherry tomatoes) with the skin on and let them cook in the sauce until they break down and I can mash them with the back of the wooden spoon. A little salt and pepper, a generous drizzle of good olive oil and there you have it, a delicious quick tomato sauce that you can use for all kinds of pasta.



Ricotta stuffed shells in tomato sauce

Ricotta stuffed shells in tomato sauce



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

Quick tomato sauce


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.

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, add a little bit of water for steam and bake in a 400°F oven until lightly crisp and golden on top.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.


Quick tomato sauce:


2 cups tomato passata

A generous pinch of just dried herbs (thyme, oregano)

4-5 small tomatoes (I used Campari tomatoes on the vine)

A good drizzle of olive oil – 2-3 tablespoons

Salt and pepper


Place the tomato passata in a small pot, add dried herbs and bring to a simmer.

Lower heat and let cook until herbs are incorporated into the sauce.

Add salt, pepper and the olive oil and keep on very low heat for a few


To serve:


Spoon tomato sauce into individual bowls, place a few stuffed shells on the sauce, drizzle with additional olive oil.

Serve hot.


Ricotta stuffed shells in tomato sauce

Ricotta stuffed shells in tomato sauce



  • Colleen says:

    This looks delicious, Dina, and I love your simple tomato sauce. So fresh and a nice balance to the cheese. Definitely will be doing this. Thanks for posting.

    • Dina says:

      Thanks Colleen, this is my “midnight” tomato sauce when we are hungry in the middle of the night. I hope it will be useful to you. Ciao.

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