Tuscan Stuffed Shells are large pasta shells filled with a rich and cheesy mixture baked in a cream sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese. Try my Three Cheese Stuffed Shells for another satisfying and cheesy pasta dish.
Tuscan Stuffed Shells
I have more than ten recipes for stuffed shells, from Cheeseburger Stuffed Shells to Chicken Taco Stuffed Shells, just to name a couple. They are delicious and filling meals that are the perfect comfort food. Tuscan Stuffed Shells are no exception. The filling is the mixture I used in my Five Cheese Ravioli and the sauce is a cream sauce made with onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach.
Tuscan Stuffed Shells Ingredients
There are two main parts to this recipe–the filling and the cream sauce.
Filling: Five kinds of cheese are mixed together for the filling: ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, romano, and cream cheese.
Pasta: I was able to fill about 20 large pasta shells with the five-cheese filling. Jumbo shells would also work; you just may fill fewer shells. The shells only need to boil for about 4 minutes before being stuffed. They will not be fully cooked, but they will cook more when in the oven.
Sauce: The sauce is a cream sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach added to the mix. I will let you know how to soften the sun-dried tomatoes before they go into the sauce.
Cheese: Shredded mozzarella cheese is used to top the shells for even more cheesiness!
How to Make the Pasta and Filling
To get started with this recipe, boil the pasta shells for about four minutes. They will not be fully cooked but will cook in the oven after being filled. Drain the pasta and let the shells cool enough so you can handle them while filling.
The five-cheese filling is rich and ooey-gooey. For the cheese mixture, combine all the ingredients together and set it aside. I recommend taking the time to grate your own cheese for the filling! Trust me, it makes a huge difference, and you may think twice about buying pre-shredded cheese ever again!
Place the filling in a piping bag or a zipped bag with the corner cut off. Pipe a little bit of the filling into each shell. I was able to fill about 20 shells. Set them aside as you make the sauce.
How to Soften Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Before you make the sauce, be sure to soften and chop the sun-dried tomatoes. They are softened so they blend into the sauce (and not be crunchy). To soften the tomatoes, first, bring a pot of water to a boil. Next, add the tomatoes to the boiling water, cover the pot, and bring to a simmer.
Let the sun-dried tomatoes simmer for about 3 minutes. Then, drain them and let them cool before chopping. Set them aside until ready to add them to the sauce.
How to Make the Sauce
With the shells stuffed and the sun-dried tomatoes softened and chopped, it’s time to make the sauce. To make the sauce, in a large saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onions. Next, add the garlic and cook for about a minute.
Then, add sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes; the mixture will be thick. Pour in the broth and use a wooden spoon to stir, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Finally, add the heavy cream, spinach, and parmesan cheese and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.
How to Make Tuscan Stuffed Shells
Once the parts of the recipe have been prepared, it’s easy to assemble the dish and get it cooked. To do this, add about a cup of the cream sauce to the bottom of a 12-inch cast-iron, or oven-safe, skillet. Fill the skillet with a layer of stuffed shells and cover them with the rest of the sauce. Make sure the pasta is completely covered with sauce so the edges of the noodles don’t burn or get crunchy.
Top it all off with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake for about ten minutes. After ten minutes, set the oven to broil for 2-3 minutes (watching carefully), until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Serve with a basket of garlic breadsticks for a delicious meal!
Looking for More Stuffed Shells Recipes?
Tuscan Stuffed Shells
Tuscan Stuffed Shells are large pasta shells filled with a rich and cheesy mixture and baked in a creamy sauce topped with mozzarella cheese.
- 6 ounces large pasta shells, approximately 20 shells
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ cup 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 butter
- 1 cup yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, softened in hot water and chopped
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- basil, chopped (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta 4 minutes less than the instructions on the box. (The shells will continue to cook in the oven.) Drain the noodles and let them cool enough to touch.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, romano cheese, cream cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley.
Add mixture to a piping bag (or a zipped plastic bag).
Once noodles are cooled, use the piping bag to fill the individual noodles with the filling. Set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add butter. Once the butter has melted, add onions and cook until translucent and fragrant (about 5 minutes).
Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.
Add sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
Add flour and cook 1-2 more minutes. (The mixture will thicken.)
Add broth, and stir, using a wooden spoon. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add heavy cream, spinach, and parmesan cheese. Continue cooking until the spinach is wilted, or about 3-5 minutes.
Baking Stuffed Shells
To a 12-inch cast-iron (or oven-safe) skillet, add 1 cup of the sauce.
Top the sauce with an even layer of the stuffed noodles.
Cover the pasta with the remaining sauce and top with mozzarella cheese. (Make sure the shells are completely coated with the sauce to prevent the pasta from getting crunchy.)
Bake for 10 minutes. Then, broil the shells for 2-3 minutes (watching carefully), or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
Serve garnished with fresh basil.