This simple pesto pasta bake is a vegetarian main dish which is perfect for feeding a crowd. Giant pasta shells are stuffed with a creamy ricotta and pesto filling then baked with homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella.
Stuffing shells might sound like a faff but I promise it's worth it 🙌
You can't beat that pesto flavour. Pesto is one of my favourite sauces and I've always got a couple of jars in the cupboard ready for quick dinners.
And obviously you could make your own for this recipe but I went for my favourite jarred brand to make it quicker and easier. That was mixed with ricotta and cheddar then stuffed into cooked pasta shells before baking.
The whole thing comes out bubbling and delicious and oh so comforting. It also makes at least six portions so you can save the leftovers for lunches or quick dinner because it reheats really well.
Why we love this recipe...
This pasta bake is the ultimate comfort food dish thanks to the filling pasta, creamy ricotta filling and rich tomato sauce with a tiny hint of spice.
Although it takes a little while to stuff the shells this recipe is actually really easy to make and as long as you're organised it won't take too long to make.
I kept this recipe pretty simple but you could add any extras you like including extra veggies, different cheeses or even some shredded chicken.
This recipe makes great leftovers and it keeps well in the fridge so it's a great meal prep option.
Stuffed Pasta Shells Ingredients
This section is here to provide further tips and ideas for alternative ingredients. The full recipe and instructions are included in the recipe card at the bottom of the post!
Tomato Sauce: This is just a simple combination of olive oil, garlic, tinned tomatoes, dried oregano and chilli flakes although you could also use your favourite jarred brand if you prefer.
Conchiglioni: These are giant pasta shells which you can stuff with the cheesy pesto filling.
Pesto Filling: Mixture of ricotta, cheddar and pesto (store bought or homemade).
Mozzarella: Melted over the top until browned.
How to make pesto shells
Make the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil and fry the garlic gently then pour in the tomatoes, oregano, chilli flakes and plenty of seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Make the filling: Cook the pasta according to packet instructions then mix together the ricotta, cheddar and pesto in a bowl. Drain and rinse the pasta until cool enough to handle.
Finish the pasta bake: Fill each shell with a tablespoon of filling and place in a baking dish. Pour over the sauce and top with mozzarella then bake until browned.
Can I freeze this recipe?
Although you can freeze this recipe the texture can be affected by doing that so I think it would be better to store any leftovers in the fridge and eating within 2-3 days.
Want more? Try these other pasta recipes?
- Pork Pasta with Dried Mushrooms & Spinach
- Smoked Salmon Pasta with Asparagus
- Vodka Pasta Sauce with Sun Dried Tomato
- Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
- Mushroom Stroganoff with Rosemary
- Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti
- Tuna Noodle Casserole
Pesto Pasta Bake with Giant Shells
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 4 cloves Garlic crushed
- 2 400g tins Chopped Tomatoes
- 2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Chilli Flakes
- Salt and Pepper
- 400 g Conchiglioni
- 500 g Ricotta
- 100 g Cheddar grated
- 100 g Basil Pesto
- 250 g Mozzarella torn
- Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Rub a baking dish with oil. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil.
- Heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the garlic, fry gently for a minute then pour in the tomatoes. Add the oregano, chilli flakes and plenty of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to packet instructions. Mix together the ricotta, cheddar and pesto. Drain the pasta and run under cold water until cool enough to handle.
- Spread half the tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with a tablespoon of the cheese mixture and place on top of the sauce one by one. Pour the rest of the sauce over the shells then tear over the mozzarella. Put the baking dish in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Serve.
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