Pasta Shells With Zucchini & Spinach

Total Time
Prep 2 hrs
Cook 1 hr

I've taken this dish to pot lucks & served it at many dinner parties........ always received rave reviews. It can be served as the main dish or as a side dish. Personally, I like it pared with Chicken Parmesan & garlic bread. It requires a LOT of preparation (I've estimated the time) but you will not regret it. It can be made in advance & refrigerated or frozen.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. FILLING: Melt butter over medium heat in a large, heavy dutch oven.
  2. Add onions& garlic; cook until onions are tender& wilted, stirring occasionally.
  3. PREPARE ZUCCHINI: Wash well, taste a bit of the skin from each& peel only if it tastes bitter.
  4. Grate& place in a colander in the sink.
  5. sprinkle with about 2 tsps of salt& let excess liquid drain for 30 minutes.
  6. Rinse with cold water to remove most of the salt& then toss on a clean tea towel (or paper towels) to dry before cooking.
  7. Add drained zucchini to dutch oven& cook until any moisture evaporates.
  8. PREPARE SPINACH: Wash well& trim off tough stems.
  9. Place leaves, with water from washing still clinging to them, in a large pot.
  10. Cook for a few minutes or just until leaves have wilted.
  11. Let cool, then wring dry in a clean tea towel& chop.
  12. Add spinach to the dutch oven and combine thoroughly.
  13. Remove from heat& allow the mixture to cool.
  14. Drain off excess liquid.
  15. Beat eggs in a medium sized bowl; add ricotta& beat until smooth.
  16. Add Parmesan and seasonings; mix well.
  17. Combine with vegetable mixture in the dutch oven, mix thoroughly; set aside.
  18. SAUCE: Melt butter in large, heavy pot; cook onions& garlic until tender and wilted.
  19. Add tomatoes, including their liquid, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
  20. Cook for 30- 45 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
  21. Purée and test for seasonings.
  22. Set aside.
  23. Pasta: Cook shells in a large pot of salted water, according to package directions until"el dente".
  24. Drain well and rinse with cold water to stop cooking and prevent sticking.
  25. Using a colander, gently shake shells to drain excess water.
  26. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish.
  27. Spoon some of the filling into each shell& arrange, stuffed side up, in the casserole dish.
  28. Pour sauce over the shells& sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  29. (If you can only find small shells, just layer them on the bottom of the casserole dish, cover with a layer of filling, a layer of sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan).
  30. Bake at 350°F for 40-50 minutes or until heated through and bubbling.
Most Helpful

Susan Lee was right--this was worth the extra time. I followed this recipe mostly to a "T," but I did add a little more garlic in the sauce and stuffing. I didn't use any fresh basil or parsley because I forgot to add them! I am serving this with Tish's Garlic Soup as an appetizer and a nice red wine. THANKS for posting--I will make this again and again!

spatchcock August 23, 2003

Wonderful recipe for our family! My son, dh, and one of my vegetarian daughters are not too crazy about ricotta...and it was rather hidden in these magnificent stuffed shells. All five us us really enjoyed this, and I will add it to my repetoire. Thanks ever so much for sharing this! TRY IT - it is really worth the bit of extra time.

Susan Lee August 05, 2003

I was lucky enough to have the chef herself prepare this for me for a very special lunch, it was just amazing! So flavourful and delicious, I decided to make this for a catering event I had. I really thought they were quite easy to prepare, and we made 48 of them! I used a home made ricotta recipe found here on Zaar, and made as directed. Rave reviews from my clients, they loved it! Thanks CL, for a great addition to my at home menu as well as my catering menu! :)

~Leslie~ November 16, 2009