Swiss Chard and Ricotta Stuffed Shells: A Delightful Vegetarian Comfort Dish

When it comes to comfort food, stuffed shells are a classic favorite. The combination of tender pasta, creamy ricotta, and savory marinara sauce is hard to resist. This version takes it a step further by incorporating Swiss chard, adding a nutritious and colorful twist to the dish. Packed with vitamins and minerals, Swiss chard complements the creamy ricotta perfectly, making these stuffed shells a wholesome and satisfying meal. Let’s dive into this delicious recipe that’s sure to become a family favorite.

- 1 bunch of Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 box jumbo pasta shells
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Step 1: Preheat the Oven

Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). This ensures that it’s hot and ready to go once your stuffed shells are assembled.

Step 2: Cook the Pasta Shells

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the jumbo pasta shells and cook them according to the package instructions until they are al dente. Be careful not to overcook them, as they will continue to cook in the oven. Drain the shells and set them aside to cool.

Step 3: Prepare the Swiss Chard

While the pasta is cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chopped Swiss chard and sauté until it’s wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Let the chard cool slightly, then squeeze out any excess moisture using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Excess moisture can make the filling watery, so this step is important.

Step 4: Make the Ricotta Filling

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and the cooked Swiss chard. Crack in the egg and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined. The egg helps to bind the filling, making it creamy and cohesive.

Step 5: Stuff the Shells

Using a spoon, carefully stuff each pasta shell with the ricotta and Swiss chard mixture. Fill them generously, but not so much that the filling spills out. Arrange the stuffed shells in a single layer in a large baking dish.

Step 6: Add the Sauce and Cheese

Pour the marinara sauce evenly over the stuffed shells. Be sure to cover all the shells with sauce to keep them moist during baking. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the top, adding a deliciously melty and golden layer to the dish.

Step 7: Bake the Shells

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Step 8: Serve and Enjoy

Let the stuffed shells cool for a few minutes before serving. This allows the filling to set slightly, making them easier to serve. Pair this dish with a simple green salad and some garlic bread for a complete meal.

Tips and Variations

Add More Veggies: For extra nutrition, consider adding sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, or spinach to the ricotta mixture.

Use Different Cheeses: Experiment with different cheeses like goat cheese or fontina for a unique flavor profile.

Make It Ahead: This dish can be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated. When ready to bake, add an extra 10 minutes to the baking time if baking straight from the fridge.

Freeze for Later: These stuffed shells freeze well. After assembling, cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then freeze. When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap, cover with foil, and bake from frozen, adding about 30 minutes to the baking time.

Swiss Chard and Ricotta Stuffed Shells are a delightful way to enjoy a comforting and nutritious meal. With its creamy filling and savory sauce, this dish is perfect for family dinners, potlucks, or whenever you’re in the mood for something deliciously satisfying. Enjoy!