Vegetarian stuffed shells; made with roasted peppers, carrots, cauliflower, and spinach in a cheesy red sauce! No ricotta cheese is needed for the filling. Just lots of roasted veggies and fresh herbs for bright flavor!
The perfect healthy pasta dinner – jumbo pasta shells that are stuffed with a blend of roasted vegetables, spinach, and fresh herbs. The shells are then baked to perfection with rich marinara and lots of melted cheese!
This version is different from the classic recipe because instead of ricotta cheese, it uses a handful of healthy veggies as the filling! Making the recipe lighter than most, but still full of so much delicious flavor.
You’ll find this dish to be perfect for feeding a crowd or for serving as a healthy weeknight meal for the family. It takes a little bit of effort to make, but every bite is worth it in the end!
Ingredients – What You Need
Below you’ll find the full list of ingredients you need to make this recipe happen.
Shells: you’ll need large/jumbo shells for this recipe.
Parmesan & Mozzarella: these two cheeses will be used for the filling and melting over top!
Marinara: a quality marinara is always recommended! See notes for my top choices.
Fresh herbs: using fresh basil and oregano adds bright flavor to every bite! I don’t recommend dried herbs.
Vegetables: for the filling, I chose carrots, cauliflower, baby peppers for a sweet flavor, and spinach for some greens! You can also use any veggie you love for this recipe.
Garlic: to saute with the spinach!
How to Make Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
(1) First, preheat the oven to 425F and roast carrot sticks, baby peppers, and cauliflower florets for 20 minutes with 2 teaspoons of oil and a sprinkle of salt.
- While the veggies roast, cook the shells as the packaging instructs until al dente in texture. Remove and let sit in a shallow dish with a little water to prevent sticking.
(2) In a saucepan, cook minced garlic in 1 teaspoon of oil for 30 seconds, then add spinach and cook with garlic until the spinach is wilted. Set aside.
(3) Remove roasted vegetables and let them cool for a moment.
(4) Then add the vegetables to a cutting board, remove the stems from the peppers, and chop all the veggies into small pieces.
(5) In a bowl, combine cooked spinach, chopped roasted veggies, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, chopped basil & oregano, and 1/3 cup marinara sauce. Mix together.
(6) Add 1 1/2 cups of marinara to a large casserole baking dish. Then fill cooked shells with veggie filling and arrange in baking dish.
(7) Spoon additional marinara over each stuffed shell and cover with remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 25 minutes at 400F.
Tips for Success
Types of marinara to use – choosing a quality marinara is key for flavor! Save time and use my favorite store-bought marinara. If you’d like to make your own sauce try our San Marzano tomato sauce or this spicy arrabbiata sauce!
More veggies you can use – want to mix things up? Try stuffing the shells with roasted eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, or use kale instead of spinach.
Additional cheese options – you can also top these stuffed shells with fontina cheese, gruyere, or cheddar cheese.
What to Pair it With
If you’re wondering what dishes go well with stuffed shells, you can try it alongside a salad like our Tuscan artichoke salad, pear and gorgonzola salad, or this Italian salad! It would also go well with garlic bread or any crusty Italian bread. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
Tips for Freezing & Storing Leftovers
How long leftovers keep – store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate. They should keep for about 4-5 days.
Freezing tips – prepare the stuffed shells as instructed, but don’t bake. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, foil, then freeze for 1-2 months. Let thaw at room temperature and bake as the recipe instructs.
More Baked Pastas to Try
Vegetarian Stuffed Shells (without ricotta)
- 18 Jumbo shells add some extra in just in case some break or tear while cooking
- 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
- 2 carrots cut into 1 inch thick sticks
- 1/2 head of cauliflower or 1 1/2 cups
- 12 baby bell peppers or two bell peppers
- 1 1/2 cups spinach
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 3 cups marinara divided
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese divided
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Roast veggies: arrange baby bell peppers, cauliflower florets, and carrot sticks on a sheet pan. Drizzle with oil and toss. Then roast vegetables for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil, cook pasta as the packaging instructs until "al dente". When the pasta is finished, drain and add back to pot with a litte bit of cold water to prevent the noodles from sticking.
- Saute spinach: in a separate pan, saute minced garlic and spinach until the spinach is wilted (about 2-4 minutes).
- Chop veggies: when roasted vegetables are done, remove stems from peppers and transfer veggies to a cutting board. Chop into small pieces.
- Mix together veggie filling: in a bowl, mix together chopped roasted vegetables, spinach, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1/2 cup marinara, and chopped basil and oregano.
- Stuff the shells: Use a spoon to stuff each shell with the filling, and place in a baking dish with 2 cups of sauce. Arrange stuffed shells over sauce, and repeat until filling and shells are used up.
- Bake: Top the shells with remaining marinara, mozzarella, and remaining parmesan cheese. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve!