Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells with Chunky Garden Marinara Sauce is how to put a smile on hungry faces! This is a great way to use up grilled vegetables!
I know it’s hard some days, but the hungry peeps sitting around your table are looking to the head chef in the house for some loving through food. This Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells with Chunky Garden Marinara Sauce will make those peeps feel like you hugged their souls.
Cheesy stuffed pasta is just one of those things.
One of those things that is pure comfort food any time of year!
One of those things where you might think….omg….stuffing all those pasta shells! However, it’s one of those things that is sure to put a smile on every face sitting around your table!
I stuff a lot of pasta shells for clients and once you get the hang of it, it’s not that difficult. Just grab a shell, scoop up some filling with a spoon, use the spoon to open the shell and stuff it! If you don’t stuff it ever-so-perfectly, who cares? There’s a sauce that’s going to cover it up along with an extra layer of cheese. Yes!
All the vegetables in this dish–bell peppers, zucchini and eggplant–are in season now. We love to grill these vegetables all summer long and incorporate them into other dishes. If you have these veggies left over from a grilling extravaganza, they’ll give the marinara a luscious, slightly smoky flavor. Heaven!
Canned tomatoes vary greatly in taste so I find nothing wrong with using your favorite jarred marinara as the base for this sauce. Adding fresh herbs such as fresh basil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes for some heat takes it up a notch and freshens the flavor.
You can make this well ahead or you can freeze to be baked off later.
Dive in, enjoy and go hug those beautiful, hungry souls around your dinner table!
45 minPrep Time
60 minCook Time
1 hr, 45 Total Time
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
18 jumbo pasta shells
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (24-ounce) jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 can (15-ounce) crushed tomatoes
1 large sprig fresh basil, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 container (15-ounce) ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 large egg
Non-stick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss vegetables with 1/4 cup olive oil, spread onto a baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
While vegetables are roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta shells and cook until pliable. (You don't want to overcook. You want to be able to stuff them easily, but remember, they're going to cook again.) Drain in a colander and cool with cold running tap water. Drain.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until softened. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add red wine and bring to a boil. Cook 1 to 2 minutes.
Add pasta sauce and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Cook 8-10 minutes for flavors to blend. Stir in fresh basil, parsley and crushed red pepper flakes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in roasted vegetables. Set aside.
Combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Mozzarella, Parmesan and egg in a bowl. Season with salt and black pepper.
Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Spread about 1 1/2 cups of the marinara in the bottom.
Fill each pasta shell with an even amount of the cheese filling. Place filled shells on top of the sauce. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the filled shells. Sprinkle remaining Mozzarella cheese over the top.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking another 10 minutes or until cheese has browned slightly.
Let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Serve additional Parmesan cheese at the table.
MAKE AHEAD: Assemble up to 2 days in advance. Bake before serving.
TO FREEZE: Assemble, cool, wrap tightly. Allow to thaw at least 24-48 hours in refrigerator. Bake per instructions before serving.