Stuffed shells and manicotti filled with meats, cheeses, and vegetables make for delicious dinners any night of the week, which is why we’re bringing you 8 recipes. Several can be made ahead of time and frozen, giving you a go-to dinner on busy nights; others take shortcuts, like using wonton wrappers for a dish that has all the appeal of filling homemade pasta without the hassle. Which pasta will you be preparing?
1. Shrimp Stuffed Shells
Stuff your shells with shrimp using Cooking Light’s seafood take on the baked pasta dish. Based on 4 shells per person, the recipe yields 5 servings. You do not need to cook the shrimp before putting it into the shells.
- 20 uncooked jumbo pasta shells (about 8 ounces)
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
- ½ cup (4 ounces) ⅓-less-fat cream cheese
- ¼ cup 2 percent reduced-fat milk
- ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon potato starch
- Cooking spray
- 3 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as McCutcheon’s), divided
- ⅓ cup (1½ ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook pasta 7 minutes or until almost al dente, omitting salt and fat. Drain well.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add cream cheese, milk, and pepper; cook until cheese melts, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in basil. Place shrimp in a bowl. Sprinkle with potato starch; toss well to coat. Add cream cheese mixture to shrimp; toss well.
Divide shrimp mixture evenly among pasta shells. Coat a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; spread 1 cup marinara over bottom of dish. Arrange shells in prepared dish; top with remaining 2 cups marinara. Sprinkle shells evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until shrimp is done.
2. Three Cheese Manicotti
Williams-Sonoma’s manicotti, from Make Ahead, by Rick Rodgers, can — like the name of the book implies — be prepared in advance. The uncooked pasta can be stored in the freezer for up to a month. Bake frozen and covered at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. It will serve 6.
- 2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon salt
- 14 manicotti, 1 pound total
- 3 cups roasted tomato sauce, homemade or purchased
- 2½ cups ricotta cheese
- 8 ounce fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces
- ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Directions: Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch freezer-to-oven baking dish. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 tablespoon salt and the manicotti. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the pasta is not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain, rinse under cold running water and drain again.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the prepared baking dish. For the manicotti filling, in a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, ½ cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the basil, the eggs, the ½ teaspoon salt, the pepper and nutmeg. Place the cheese mixture in a pastry bag or a large resealable bag with one bottom corner snipped off, and fill the manicotti.
Place the filled manicotti in the prepared dish and top with the remaining tomato sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano. (If freezing, cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and place in the freezer.)
Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden, about 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.
Recommended wine pairings: Beaujolais, 2013 Letter Press Pinot Noir
3. Italian Baked Cannelloni
The cannelloni and homemade sauce from AllRecipes.com is a recipe not to be missed. A combination of ground pork and ground beef can also be used to fill the pasta tubes to make dinner for 6.
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon dried sage
- ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
- salt to taste
- ½ cup white wine
- 12 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup white wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 cannelloni pasta shells
Directions: To make the filling, in a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil and sauté ground beef with the onion, sage and rosemary. Cook until meat is evenly browned and crumbly. Add salt and ½ cup white wine; cook until wine is evaporated.
For the sauce, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until well incorporated. Stir in milk and bring to a slow boil until mixture thickens. Stir into the meat mixture and mix well. Stir in the mozzarella and egg yolks; set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and saute onion until soft and translucent. Add ½ cup white wine and let it cook down to evaporate; add tomato and salt. Mix well; simmer for 15 minutes.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, a few at a time, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; using a slotted spoon, remove immediately to a pot filled with cold water. Lift pasta out with slotted spoon and arrange on a flat surface.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spoon a line of filling into each shell, starting from one end and using your finger to push the filling inside of each shell. In a 9×13 inch baking dish, place cannelloni and cover with tomato mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until heated through; when finished baking, allow to stand for 5 minutes and serve.
Recommended wine pairings: Chianti, 2010 Redux Cabernet Sauvignon
4. Pea and Parmesan Wonton Ravioli
You can fill your own ravioli, without rolling out pasta dough, by using wonton wrappers instead. In this Gourmet recipe via Epicurious, peas and parmesan cheese are stuffed into the wonton or dumpling wrappers; it yields 4 servings.
- 2⅔ cups frozen peas (¾ pound)
- ⅓ cup grated parmigiano-reggiano plus additional for serving
- 2 teaspoons chopped mint
- About 64 dumpling or wonton wrappers
- ¾ stick unsalted butter, melted
Directions: Cook peas in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and cool, then purée in a food processor. Stir in cheese, mint, and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Put a rounded teaspoon filling in center of a wrapper. Lightly brush edge of wrapper with water, then place a second wrapper on top and seal, pressing out any trapped air. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling, keeping ravioli covered as you work.
Boil ravioli in 2 batches in a pasta pot of salted boiling water until tender, 2 to 3 minutes per batch, removing with a slotted spoon. Drizzle with butter and sprinkle with cheese and pepper.
5. Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells
The unbaked shells from Taste of Home‘s recipe can be frozen for up to one month. To bake from freezer, thaw in the refrigerator, and then let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. After, you can bake as directed below; it serves 10.
- 1 package (12 ounces) jumbo pasta shells
- 1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ½ pound sliced baby portobello mushrooms
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
- 3¼ cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup butter, cubed
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown chicken in 1 tablespoon oil. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, saute mushrooms in remaining oil until tender; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the egg, ricotta, 1-1/2 cups Parmesan, mozzarella and seasonings.
Drain and rinse pasta with cold water; stuff each shell with about 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture. Place in a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Top with chicken and mushrooms.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add cream; cook 5 minutes longer. Add 1-1/2 cups Parmesan cheese; cook and stir until thickened.
Pour sauce over the casserole. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until bubbly.
6. Meaty Cheese Manicotti
Serve the meaty manicotti from Southern Living with a side of garlic bread and a large salad, and you’ll have dinner easily sorted out any night of the week. The recipe yields 6 servings, based on 2 shells per person, and allowing for at least 2 shells in a package of 14 to be broken.
- 1 (8-ounce) package uncooked manicotti shells
- ½ pound hot Italian sausage
- ½ pound ground round
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, drained
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse in cold water. Drain. Place in a single layer on a wire rack; set aside. Remove casings from sausage, and discard. Cook sausage, ground round, and onion in a large skillet, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain and set aside.
Add wine to skillet, stirring to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Add whipping cream and next 3 ingredients; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; cover and set aside.
Combine meat mixture, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Spoon mixture evenly into 12 manicotti shells; arrange shells in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and pour cream mixture evenly over shells; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 more minutes. Broil, 5 ½ inches from heat, 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.
7. Shells with Crispy Pancetta and Spinach
Bacon can easily be substituted for pancetta in Giada de Laurentiis’ Food Network recipe. Fine Cooking states that the difference between the cuts of pork belly occurs during the preparation and curing stages. If you want your bacon to have a closer taste to pancetta, blanch it in boiling water to lessen the smoky flavor before using it in a recipe. The shells yield 4 to 6 servings.
- 1 (12-ounce) package jumbo shells pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ pound thick-cut pancetta, cut into ¾-inch cubes
- 2 pounds frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta
- 1 cup grated asiago cheese
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup cream
- 2 cups grated asiago cheese, plus ¼ cup
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. For the shells, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.
Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl. Add the spinach, ricotta cheese, asiago cheese, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Stuff the shells with about 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture each and place the stuffed shells in a large, buttered baking dish.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to very low and add the 2 cups asiago cheese, parsley, and pepper. Stir until the cheese is dissolved. Pour the sauce over the shells. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup asiago cheese. Bake until golden on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
8. Garlicky Tortellini, Spinach & Tomato Soup
For a quick fix to your stuffed pasta cravings, buy one that is already filled and turn it into something new. Fine Cooking takes prepared tortellini and turns it into a soup in this recipe that yields 2-3 servings.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 cups (1 quart) homemade or low-salt chicken broth
- 6 ounces fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
- 14 ounces canned diced tomatoes, with their liquid
- 10 ounces spinach, washed and stemmed; coarsely chopped if larger
- 8 to 10 leaves basil, coarsely chopped
- Grated Parmesan cheese, preferably parmigiano reggiano
Directions: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook halfway, about 5 min. for frozen pasta, less if using fresh. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook just until the pasta is tender. Stir in the spinach and basil and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 min. Serve sprinkled with the grated cheese.
Recommended wine pairings: Dry Rosé, 2011 Château Le Ringue Bordeaux Supérieur