Serves a Crowd

Ricotta Stuffed Shells

March 11, 2011
5 Ratings
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

I've been making this forever, and everyone in my family loves it! It is a basic dish which definitely falls into "Comfort Food" category. In summer time, when there is plenty of tomatoes (and plenty of home-made tomato sauce!) use that home-made sauce instead of canned crushed tomatoes. And make sure you use LOTS of fresh basil! —Ausra

What You'll Need
  • Sauce
  • 28 ounces can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 pound ground beef (or Italian sausage)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • Shells
  • 1 1/2 pounds ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 box of jumbo pasta shells
  1. Sauce: coarsely chop onion, peeled carrots and celery stalks and process them in the food processor in 3-4 pulses, until finely chopped.
  2. Heat the butter in a large pan or Dutch oven, add chopped vegetables and saute until soft, 2-3 min.
  3. Add ground meat, or sausage to the pan and brown it, while breaking it with a spatula into small bits.
  4. when the meat is all browned, add vinegar and cook until almost all liquid has evaporated.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes to the pan, season with salt and pepper, cover the pan with the lid and let the sauce simmer on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Shells: first cook pasta shells in a plenty of salty water until almost cooked (you still want the shells to be a bit firm since they'll continue cooking when you bake them). Drain pasta and let it cool in colander while prepare the filling.
  7. In a large mixing bowl mix ricotta, shredded mozzarella, egg, minced garlic, finely chopped basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
  8. Assembling: pour the sauce into a large baking dish. I always use 9 x 13" Pyrex glass pan. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the sauce - you'll use it to top the shells.
  9. Spoon ricotta filling into shells, place them on top of the sauce, seam facing up. Keep filling all the shells and laying them in snug rows. When the baking dish is full, spoon some of the reserved sauce on top of the shells. Cover the dish with a large sheet of aluminum foil and bake in 450 F oven for about 20-25 minutes until sauce is bubbly and the shells are heated through.
  10. When ready to serve, garnish with some extra basil leaves - it will make the dish smell like heaven!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Amanda
  • food52fan
  • jenniebgood

4 Reviews

food52fan February 5, 2022
This is an easy and delicious recipe! I made the filling early in the day and it was very flavorful. I did not drain the ricotta (in answer to a question below). Will definitely make this again, thank you!
Amanda May 6, 2019
the recipe doesn't say anything about straining the ricotta, do you need to?
jenniebgood October 16, 2015
Ausra - Just wanted you to know this is absolutely my go-to recipe for stuffed shells. I have made them a dozen times since seeing this recipe on F52. I love it!
Amanda May 6, 2019
do you strain your ricotta when you make it?