Vegan Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Spinach (Conchiglioni)
Ricotta stuffed shells with spinach is a great vegetarian or vegan casserole and an easy comfort food dinner. Let me show you how to make this delicious baked Conchiglioni!
This is one of those great childhood nostalgia recipes. It’s classic comfort food many of us grew up with. I’ve making ricotta stuffed shells with spinach for my own family for awhile now and can’t wait to share it with you.
This version of baked stuffed shells uses just a few simple ingredients that come together for the most wonderful classic flavor combination (think lasagna). It can be made ahead, is a great recipe for a meal train, and is delicious the next day too.
Why This Recipe Works
I don’t find that dairy ricotta has very much flavor. But almond-based dairy-free ricotta with a hint of truffle is completely delicious and bakes up just like the former. In case you’re wondering, here’s an article all about vegetarian vs vegan.
I use this amazing vegan ricotta in the BEST Vegan Lasagna and its lower-carb cousin, Lasagna Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. Most people can’t tell it isn’t “real” ricotta at all, it just tastes like better ricotta.
Spinach adds color, nutrition, texture, and flavor. I use frozen, thawed spinach but you can use fresh too. The ricotta stuffed shells are baked on a bed of Italian tomato sauce, which you can make from scratch with our easy Pomodoro Sauce recipe, Fresh Tomato Marinara, or with your favorite jar of marinara.
How to Make Stuffed Shells
Making ricotta stuffed shells is easy and fun. Simply cook the shells, fill them, and bake with your sauce!
Where to Buy Conchiglioni (Jumbo Shells)
Jumbo pasta shells, or Conchiglioni, can be hard to find. Their smaller cousin, Conchiglie, is much easier to find. I got this bag made by Seggiano at Whole Foods. DeCecco and other brands also make Conchiglioni Rigati (large grooved shells). If you can’t find them locally, they are available on Amazon (linked in recipe card).
Step 1: Cook the Jumbo Shells
Cook the shells until al dente, which should take 10-12 minutes, but can vary from brand to brand. Use salted boiling water as this is the only opportunity to flavor the pasta itself.
Step 2: Make the Filling
While the pasta cooks, mix together the ricotta and spinach.
Fill a large casserole dish with about 1/2″ of sauce. The dish shown here could not hold the whole recipe. I filled it and another 8-inch square casserole dish for my mom.
Step 3: Fill the Cooked Shells
Use a spoon to fill the shells. Some people like to use a piping bag with tip snipped off, but I use a spoon. Set each stuffed shell into the sauce.
Step 4: Bake Your Stuffed Shells
Bake the shells in the casserole dish covered with foil until hot and bubbly. If your shells are topped with shredded Italian cheese, remove the foil for a few minutes.
Make-Ahead, Leftover Storage, & Reheating Notes
- You can prepare your stuffed shells in the morning and refrigerate baked or unbaked.
- Let baked shells cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Reheat in the oven, covered with foil, at 350 degrees F.
More Plant-Based Dinners to Try
- The Best Vegan Lasagna
- Hearty Vegan Chili
- Italian Lentil Casserole
- Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- Homemade Pizza Dough and Authentic Sauce
- 1 package jumbo shell pasta (Conchiglioni)
- 1 batch almond ricotta (1 1/2 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup frozen, thawed spinach, water squeezed out
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1 batch Pomodoro Sauce (or favorite jar of sauce)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (I used Follow Your Heart)
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat the bottom of a large casserole dish with about ½" of sauce (about 2 cups).
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Conchiglioni shell pasta to the water and boil until al dente, following package instructions. Drain and toss the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent the shells from sticking together.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Stir together the ricotta, garlic, and spinach (I usually toss the garlic cloves into the almonds when making the ricotta). Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Use a spoon to fill the shells with the spinach ricotta filling, filling them almost all the way. Place the stuffed shells, filling side up, onto the sauce. Arrange the shells in one layer, but it's fine if they are touching. You may end up with extra cooked shells, depending on the size of your package of pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
- Cover the casserole dish with foil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes.
- Garnish with parsley or basil and serve warm with more warmed sauce, if desired.
Ricotta: I recommend using our dairy-free ricotta recipe for the best flavor, but you can also use Kite Hill vegan ricotta or regular ricotta (for vegetarians).
If you like the tops extra cheesy, feel free to top the shells with 1/2 cup of shredded Italian cheese (mozzarella or a blend).
Spinach: If you'd like to use fresh spinach, roughly chop about 4 cups of packed spinach leaves. Saute in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Blot with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
Make-Ahead: You can assemble the stuffed shells in the morning and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Leftovers: Let leftovers cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat in the microwave or oven. Leftover stuffed shells make a great lunch the next day.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 4 shells
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 156Trans Fat: 0gSugar: 0g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.