This version of Spinach Stuffed Shells has no ricotta cheese, using cottage cheese and plenty of spinach these shells are a light twist on classic stuffed shells!
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Cottage Cheese Stuffed Shells
Stuffed shells was never something on my radar as foods to make often because I have a secret that I hate admitting, I don’t care for ricotta cheese. Geez I hope some of my friends don’t read that…
But upon further research I have figured that I think that there are plenty of others who also don’t care for ricotta cheese too. So I got thinking…
What are some good replacements for Ricotta Cheese?
Easy. COTTAGE CHEESE!
I finally put two and two together that no wonder I liked the lasagna my mom always would make (with cottage cheese) but didn’t care for it as much other places.
So with this knowledge I set out to make a spinach packed stuffed shells recipe without ricotta.
If you are looking for a super classic stuffed shells recipe I have to admit this one might not be it.
This stuffed shells recipe is packed with spinach, like more spinach than cheese. On top of that the base is cottage cheese, so this recipe lends itself to being a lightened up version of stuffed shells! One you where you actually feel like you ate vegetables!
So if that is what you are looking for read on.
- Frozen Chopped Spinach – Thawed, once thawed you will squeeze as much of the liquid out as you can so the stuffed shells don’t get too wet.
- Cottage Cheese – The replacement for ricotta cheese. There are different varieties of cottage cheese as far as size and fat content. I used a 4% fat and chunkier style of cottage cheese for recipe testing. Feel free to use what cottage cheese suites you.
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese – The shredded mozzarella will go both on top and in the stuffed shells.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese – A little will go into the stuffed shells. Note that parmesan cheese is not technically vegetarian if you are looking for a fully vegetarian version. Due to the rennet used in the cheese making process most parmesan cheeses won’t be vegetarian friendly unless if you search for one or you can omit it from the recipe.
- Spices – garlic powder, ground nutmeg, red chili pepper flakes, and salt – This is a fairly common combo of seasonings used in stuffed shells.
- Jumbo Pasta Shells – Different brands of the jumbo pasta shells might come is slightly different sizes, any size from 8 to 12 ounces should work okay when making this recipe.
- Marinara Sauce – I like to really read the ingredients when picking out a marinara sauce, it is one of those foods that can vary a lot on ingredients. For example some brands are going to be full of additives, sugars, and gross oils. I like to grab Rao’s (not sponsored) because they have a pretty clean ingredients list with simple things like tomatoes and olive oil. Although most, but not all labeled ‘organic’ are more likely to have a simpler ingredients list as well!
For a complete detailed list of the ingredients continue towards the bottom of the page.
Preheat oven to 350º F. Bring large pot of water to a boil.
Add large shells to the water with a large pinch of salt. Cook to package instructions and then drain, I find that they usually cook about 9 minutes but this will depend brand to brand. In the colander rinse with cool water.
Meanwhile drain the thawed spinach with a towel. Add the thawed spinach to a clean towel, wring out any extra liquid over the sink. Add the spinach to a mixing bowl. Add the cottage cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, nutmeg, chili flakes, and salt. Mix everything to combine.
Add half of the marinara to a 9×13 baking dish and spread it out to cover the bottom.
Once the shells are drained and cool enough to touch stuff the shells with the spinach mixture and add to the baking dish. You migth have leftover shells.
Once the shells are all stuffed and in the dish add the remaining sauce over top followed by the remainder of the mozzarella cheese.
Cover with almuminum foil and cook for 20 minutes covered. Remove the foil and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes uncovered until the cheese on top is fully melted.
Tips, Tricks, and Questions
- If your spinach is still frozen when it is time to cook transfer the frozen spinach into a colander and rinse with warm water until thawed. Then drain out any of that extra liquid.
What are some good side dishes for stuffed shells?
- Maybe too much spinach? But a Simple Spinach Salad would be delicious
- Any veggies in the air fryer for an easy side like my Air Fryer Baby Potatoes
- A classic veggie side dish like my Oven Roasted Broccoli Recipe or even my Baked Sweet Potato Wedges is always a popular choice
If you like these Spinach Stuffed Shells without Ricotta you might also like:
- Easy Weeknight Sausage & Peppers Pasta
- Healthy Spinach Artichoke Chicken Bake
- Creamy Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs
- Easy Spaghetti Puttanesca
- 1 lbs (16oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 1 ½ cup cottage cheese
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (divided, half on top)
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch red chilli pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10.5oz jumbo pasta shells
- 28 ounces jar marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Bring large pot of water to a boil.
- Add large shells to the water with a large pinch of salt. Cook to package instructions and then drain. Rinse with cool water.
- Meanwhile drain the spinach with a towel. Add the thawed spinach to a clean towel, wring out any extra liquid. Add the spinach to a mixing bowl. Add the cottage cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, nutmeg, chili flakes, and salt. Mix everything to combine.
- Add half of the marinara to a 9x13 baking dish and spread out.
- Once the shells are drained and cool enough to touch stuff the shells with the spinach mixture and add to the baking dish. You migth have leftover shells.
- Once the shells are all stuffed and in the dish add the remaining sauce over top followed by the remainder of the mozzarella cheese.
- Cover with almuminum foil and cook for 20 minutes covered. Remove the foil and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes uncovered until the cheese on top is fully melted.
Different brands of the jumbo pasta shells might come in slightly different sizes, any size from 8 to 12 ounces should work okay when making this recipe.
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Serving Size:4-5 stuffed shells
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 437Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 1744mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 5gSugar: 12gProtein: 27g
Nutritional data is automated, final nutritional information will depend on ingredients used and any changes made.