Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

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Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Story and Photos by Angelica Radacinski 

Eating healthy and feeling full are two goals Cynthia Ramirez looks for in every meal.

Ramirez, a San Antonio native and a senior at St. Mary’s University, is studying Forensic Science.

She hopes to continue school shortly after she graduates and attend law school.  Aside from loving to cook, Ramirez enjoys painting and creating jewelry.

Ramirez loves St. Mary’s because, unlike larger schools, she is able to receive constant help and support in her classes from professors.

“St. Mary’s offers such wonderful classes and support for whatever your major may be,” she says.

Ramirez enjoys a wide variety of foods and makes clear that she doesn’t necessarily have a favorite dish; however, she points out that she does like seafood quite a bit.  She enjoys baking and has baked an array of desserts.

The recipe was chosen based on a few factors–it is fairly inexpensive to make the dish based on the simple ingredients, it can feed a large number, it is quite healthy compared to most dishes, and it also fills a person up with relatively small portions.

This dish is also easy to make if someone is short on time.

“This dish is really simple. I always like to add a little more garlic for flavor and I tend to use organic products because it gives a cleaner, still delicious flavor,”  adds Ramirez.


  • 16 jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lbs baby spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lbs part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 lbs part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 T chopped basil
  • 1 1/2 c marinara sauce
  • 2 T grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta shells and cook about 10 minutes. Drain well then toss with oil in a large bowl; set aside. Preheat oven to 375°F. Put spinach into a large skillet and drizzle with a tablespoon or two of water. Cover and cook over medium low heat, tossing occasionally, until just wilted; drain well. When cool enough to handle, squeeze to remove any excess water. Chop spinach and transfer to a large bowl. Add garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, egg and basil to make the filling. Spread a few spoonfuls of marinara sauce in the bottom of a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the shells in a single layer. Fill each shell with spinach mixture and arrange in the dish. Pour remaining sauce over and around the stuffed shells and top with Parmigiano Reggiano. Cover with foil and bake until hot throughout, 20 to 30 minutes, then uncover and continue baking until golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Makes four servings.