Pesto Stuffed Shells

Pesto Stuffed Shells – hands down the BEST stuffed shells EVER! Jumbo shells stuffed with cottage cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, and pesto and baked in marinara sauce. Makes a lot of food. Great for dinner parties and potlucks. Can make in advance and refrigerate or freeze for later. Serve with garlic bread and a salad for a meal better than any restaurant!

plate of stuffed shells with salad and rolls

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Three Cheese Stuffed Shells

These Pesto Stuffed Shells are a staple at our house. I’ve been making this delicious recipe forever! This recipe is super easy to make and tastes great! Jumbo shells stuffed with three kinds of melty cheese and smothered with spaghetti sauce. Comfort food at its best! We ate this pasta for dinner and fought over the leftovers for lunch. It is equally delicious, if not better, the next day. Give this a try the next time you need an easy meal the whole family will enjoy!

baking dish of stuffed pasta shells

How to Make Pesto Stuffed Shells

This casserole is super easy to make with only a few simple ingredients. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook jumbo pasta shells in a large pot of salted water according to the package instructions for al dente. While the pasta is cooking, combine cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, an egg, and pesto in a large bowl. Drain the pasta shells and cool until easy to handle. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. With a spoon, stuff the cooked shell with the cheese filling and place them in the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Pour pasta sauce over the top of the shells and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the casserole. Bake uncovered until bubbly. Garnish with casserole with fresh herbs such as fresh parsley or fresh basil.

Helpful Tips & Frequently Asked Questions

  • My favorite store-bought spaghetti sauces are Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Marinara (green label), Rao’s, and La Famiglia DelGrosso.
  • We like this meatless main dish. Feel free to use a meat sauce. Simply add ground beefItalian sausage, or turkey sausage to the spaghetti sauce.
  • What cheese goes in stuffed shells? I use cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Feel free to use different types of cheeses
    • .Don’t like cottage cheese? You can substitute ricotta cheese.
  • Feel free to add some fresh spinach to the cheese mixture.
  • Add some red pepper flakes to the dish for a little spicy.
  • Can Stuffed Shells be made in advance? Yes! You can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the cooking time if baking straight from the refrigerator.
  • Can Stuffed Shells be frozen? Yes! Assemble the casserole and cool completely. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze.
    • When ready to bake, thaw the frozen shells and bake as directed.
    • The shells will keep 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
  • This makes a lot of food. Feel free to split the casserole between two pans. Bake one and freeze one for later.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
scooping stuffed pasta shells from baking dish

What to Serve with Baked Pasta

This baked pasta is an all-time family favorite. I might have eaten two large servings of this cheesy goodness. Sorry, not sorry! This is a great recipe to make when you need to feed a crowd. It always gets rave reviews. We like to serve this with some garlic bread and a side salad. It is equally delicious with our favorite Italian Green Bean Salad. Perfecto! I am counting down the days until we make this again!! SO good!

Looking for more side dish ideas? Here are a few of my favorite recipes from the blog that go great with this easy stuffed shells recipe:

Creamy Italiano Salad

Creamy Italiano Salad with Homemade Dressing Recipe – our favorite salad!!! Romaine, tomatoes, thinly sliced seedless cucumbers, sliced banana peppers,…

Italian Herb Skillet Bread

Italian Herb Skillet Bread – Super easy garlic bread that tastes AMAZING! Only a few simple ingredients – frozen bread…

plate of stuffed shells with salad and rolls

Pesto Stuffed Shells

Yield: 8 people
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Pesto Stuffed Shells – hands down the BEST stuffed shells EVER! Jumbo shells stuffed with cottage cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, and pesto and baked in marinara sauce. Makes a lot of food. Great for dinner parties and potlucks. Can make in advance and refrigerate or freeze for later. Serve with garlic bread and a salad for a meal better than any restaurant!

Ingredients:

  • 21 jumbo shells
  • 1 (24 to 26-oz) jar spaghetti sauce
  • cup cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • cup pesto
  • 1 large egg

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain.
  • Pour ½ cup of spaghetti sauce into the prepared pan.
  • Combine cottage cheese, 1½ cups mozzarella cheese, grated parmesan cheese, an egg, and pesto.
  • Stuff pasta shells with cheese mixture. Place on top of spaghetti sauce. Spread reserved sauce on top of stuffed shells. Top with remaining ½ cup of mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes.

Notes:

spaghetti sauce
  • My favorite store-bought spaghetti sauces are Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Marinara (green label), Rao’s, and La Famiglia DelGrosso.
  • We like this meatless main dish. Feel free to add ground beef, Italian sausage, or turkey sausage to the spaghetti sauce.
  • Can Stuffed Shells be made in advance? Yes! You can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake. You may need to add a few minutes to the cooking time if baking straight from the refrigerator.
  • Can Stuffed Shells be frozen? Yes! Assemble the casserole and cool completely. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze.
    • To bake the shells after freezing, thaw completely and bake as directed.
    • The shells will keep 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
  • This makes a lot of food. Feel free to split the casserole between two pans. Bake one and freeze one for later.

Steph

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scooping stuffed shells from baking dish
baking dish of stuffed pasta shells

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