Last Updated on July 1, 2023
Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells are a delicious Italian-style dish made of jumbo pasta shells filled with ricotta cheese, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and herbs. This classic comfort food is perfect for any occasion and can be served as an appetizer or main course.
The creamy ricotta filling combined with the flavorful marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese make this a truly delicious dish.
This recipe includes everything you need to make the perfect stuffed shells, including step-by-step instructions and tips to help you make the most of this tasty dish. So let’s get started!
Table of Contents
How did I first get introduced to Barefoot contessa stuffed shells?
I was first introduced to this delicious dish when I went to have dinner in an Italian friends home. His mom recreated this dish following the blog of barefoot Contessa. I loved this dish so much that in the dinner I filled my stomach only with stuffed shells.
It has a rich, creamy flavor from the ricotta cheese combined with the tangy marinara sauce and savory Parmesan cheese. The fresh herbs add a bright pop of flavor to the dish, and the melted mozzarella cheese gives it a gooey texture.
After that the taste kept lingering in mouth and I knew I had to try making it at home. Since then, I’ve been hooked and often make Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells for family gatherings and other special occasions.
How to make Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells?
Making Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells requires a few steps, but it’s very easy. The key here is to make sure that your ricotta cheese is mixed with all the ingredients properly before stuffing them into the pasta shells.
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- Jumbo pasta shells: large, hollow semolina pasta shells for stuffing with fillings.
- Ricotta cheese: a soft, creamy Italian cheese made from cow’s milk whey.
- Basil leaves: fresh green leafy herb with a sweet and pungent flavor.
- Ground black pepper: ground form of the black pepper spice, with a pungent and slightly sharp flavor.
- Marinara sauce: a simple tomato-based sauce flavored with garlic, basil, and oregano.
- Grated Parmesan cheese: hard Italian cheese with a nutty taste and granular texture.
- Egg: high-protein food used for binding and adding richness.
- Mozzarella cheese: mild-tasting Italian cheese with a soft, elastic texture.
- Parsley leaves: fresh green herb with delicate flavor and aroma.
- Salt: seasoning used to enhance the flavor of food.
Preheat your oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the jumbo shells and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are slightly al dente. Drain the cooked shells and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool.
In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley leaves, basil leaves, salt and pepper until everything is combined.
Spoon 1/3 cup of the cheese mixture into each of the cooled jumbo shells. Place filled shells in the prepared baking dish.
Pour marinara sauce over the stuffed shells and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
– If you want a creamier filling, add 1/4 cup of heavy cream to the cheese mixture.
– For additional flavor, add some garlic, Italian seasoning, or red pepper flakes to the cheese mixture.
– For an extra cheesy dish, top the shells with shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese before baking.
– To make this dish ahead of time, prepare it up to Step 4 and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking.
Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells
- baking dish
- large pot
- 18 jumbo pasta shells
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat your oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the jumbo shells and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are slightly al dente. Drain the cooked shells and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley leaves, basil leaves, salt and pepper until everything is combined.
- Spoon 1/3 cup of the cheese mixture into each of the cooled jumbo shells. Place filled shells in the prepared baking dish.
- Pour marinara sauce over the stuffed shells and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Serving Size: 2 shells
- Calories: 320
- Total Fat: 15g
- Saturated Fat: 7g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 50mg
- Sodium: 680mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 27g
- Dietary Fiber: 3g
- Sugars: 6g
- Protein: 20g
- Vitamin D: 0mcg
- Calcium: 320mg
- Iron: 2mg
- Potassium: 340mg
What to serve with Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells?
Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells can be served as an appetizer or main course. To make it a complete meal, you can serve them with a side salad and garlic bread. It also pairs well with roasted vegetables such as zucchini, squash, or bell peppers.
How to store leftover Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells?
Leftover Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place them in a baking dish and bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
Can pregnant women eat this?
Yes, pregnant women can safely eat Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells as long as they are thoroughly cooked. It is important to make sure that the ricotta cheese and egg mixture are properly mixed before stuffing them into the shells.
Can I use regular pasta shells instead of jumbo pasta shells?
Yes, you can use regular pasta shells if you don’t have access to jumbo ones.
Can I use frozen ricotta cheese for this recipe?
Yes, you can use frozen ricotta cheese if you don’t have access to fresh. Make sure to thaw it out before using and drain any excess liquid.
How can I make this dish vegan-friendly?
To make this dish vegan-friendly, substitute the ricotta cheese with a vegan alternative and use an egg replacement for the egg. You can also omit the Parmesan cheese.
Can I make these stuffed shells ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the stuffed shells up to Step 4 and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking.
Can I skip boiling the shells before baking?
Yes, if you are short on time, you can skip boiling the shells before baking. However, boiling the shells helps to soften them and ensures that they cook evenly in the oven. If you decide to skip this step, make sure to increase the baking time by about 10 minutes and keep an eye on them while they bake.
Can I add vegetables to this recipe?
Yes, you can add vegetables to this recipe such as chopped spinach or zucchini. Add the chopped vegetables to the mixture before stuffing the shells for added nutrition and texture. You can also top with extra Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs if desired.
Can I freeze these stuffed shells?
Yes, you can freeze these stuffed shells before or after baking. To freeze before baking, prepare as directed up to Step 4 and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. To freeze after baking, let the shells cool completely and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake as directed.
Can I use a different type of pasta?
Yes, you can substitute the jumbo shells with other types of pasta such as penne, macaroni or even rigatoni. However, keep in mind that each type of pasta will change the texture and cooking time slightly. If using a smaller type of pasta, you may need to adjust the quantity of filling accordingly. Also, if using a smaller pasta shape, decrease the baking time by about 10 minutes.
Can I use canned tomatoes instead of fresh?
Yes, you can use canned tomatoes instead of fresh in this recipe. However, keep in mind that the flavor and texture of the dish will be slightly different. Make sure to drain any excess liquid from the canned tomatoes before using.
Can I add other seasonings to this recipe?
Yes, you can add other seasonings such as Italian seasoning, garlic powder or even red pepper flakes for added flavor. Add these seasonings along with the salt and pepper to the ricotta mixture before stuffing the shells. Alternatively, you can top with your favorite seasonings before baking.
Can I use different sauces for this recipe?
Yes, you can substitute the tomato sauce with other types of sauces such as Alfredo or pesto sauce. Each type of sauce will give the dish a unique flavor so feel free to experiment with different flavors. Make sure to adjust the quantity of sauce according to your preference.
Can I use part-skim ricotta cheese for this recipe?
Yes, you can use part-skim ricotta cheese for this recipe if desired. It will still give the dish a creamy texture without the added fat.
Can I use other herbs instead of parsley?
Yes, you can substitute the parsley with other types of herbs such as basil, oregano or thyme. Each type of herb will give the dish a unique flavor so feel free to experiment with different flavors. You can also use a combination of herbs.
Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells are a delicious Italian-style dish made of jumbo pasta shells filled with creamy ricotta cheese, flavorful marinara sauce, and melted mozzarella cheese. This classic comfort food is perfect for any occasion and can be served as an appetizer or main course.
With just a few simple steps, you can have this delicious dish ready in no time. Make sure to follow these tips for the best results!
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Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., is a board-certified Pediatrician in New Jersey and has been working at Elizabeth Pediatric Group of New Jersey since 2000.
She also has a passion for culinary arts that extends beyond the medical realm. After completing culinary school at the French Culinary Institute, she started Global Palate, LLC, a catering firm, in 2007. She ran her own six-year-old catering company and served small group parties as an owner and executive chef.