- Kosher or sea salt
- Olive oil
- 12 oz. package jumbo shells (about 40)
- 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 15 to 16 oz. ricotta cheese (preferably full fat/whole milk)
- 2 eggs
- 1 can white beans (such as cannellini), drained and rinsed
- 1/2 C green pesto, homemade or store bought
- Ground black pepper
- 3 C (or more) marinara sauce
- Grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)
- Bring at least 5 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot (or work in two smaller batches). Add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of olive oil, and the shells. Boil about 9 minutes (or until very al dente), stirring occasionally to keep the shells separated. Gently drain the shells in a colander, or scoop from the water with a slotted spoon. Rinse briefly with cool water. Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. When the shells are cool enough to handle, separate them by hand, dumping out additional water and placing opening up in a single layer on the sheet pan. Cover with more plastic wrap once almost cool.
- Bring a few quarts of water (or use remaining pasta water, if you didn’t dump it out) to a boil in the same pot. Add frozen spinach and cook three minutes on high, until tender. Line the colander with damp paper towels if the holes are large, then drain the spinach. Set colander over a bowl to drain more while you start the filling.
- Add just the garlic to a food processor and run until it’s finely chopped and sticking to the sides. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the ricotta, eggs, beans, pesto, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and several grinds of pepper (a big pinch). Squeeze the spinach in your hands to drain well of remaining water, then add to the other ingredients in the food processor. Run until almost smooth, with a few small bits of spinach still visible. I prefer not to taste after adding the raw egg, but if you find it necessary taste a little and adjust seasoning to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 350 (F) and spray or lightly oil a 9 x 13″ pan, plus another smaller casserole dish (about 8 to 10 of the shells won’t fit in the 9 x 13). To fill the shells, pick up one shell at a time, holding it open with thumb and pointer finger of your non-dominant hand. Scoop 3 to 4 tablespoons filling with your other hand and scrape into the shell. Most of them won’t look perfect, which is okay! Place filled shells close together in the prepared pans. Spoon sauce over the shells, leaving bits of the green filling visible. Cover pans with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Increase heat to 375 (F), sprinkle shells with some grated parmesan (if using), and bake uncovered for another 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted and excess moisture is reduced.
- Cool 5 to 10 minutes, then serve alone or with a crispy salad on the side!
If you like LOTS of sauce, heat up another cup or two and serve at the table with the shells. I don’t recommend adding it before baking, as it will cover up that pretty filling and also produce excess moisture in the dish.
I had trouble finding jumbo shells in several grocery stores. Use the link in the ingredient list to order them on Amazon, if need be.
- Prep Time: 45 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Category: Main Dish
- Cuisine: Italian