Checkout Stuffed Shells

Checkout Stuffed Shells

These stuffed clams are cheesy, sassy and filled with the most delicious ricotta and spinach filling. I’m in love, and I think you will be too. Speaking of love, they are so pretty that you could serve these clams for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at home.

A few more reasons to love this recipe:

  • It provides a lot of shells, so it is perfect for serving a crowd.
  • Leftovers are great for lunch or you can freeze them for later.
  • This recipe is relatively easy to prepare, with minimal chopping.

This recipe for stuffed mussels contains simple and classic Italian ingredients. You will need jumbo mussels, marinara sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, a little Parmesan, garlic and spices.

To make this cheesy dish more redeeming, I added a whole pound of fresh greens! You can use fresh or frozen spinach or kale. The greens result in a beautiful, vibrant green filling with a nice, mild taste. These stuffed clams are by far the best I’ve ever had. Keep reading for some fun variations and tips.

How to make the best stuffed mussels with spinach and ricotta

This recipe is easy to assemble with minimal chopping. You can find the full recipe below, but here’s an overview:

  • First blanch the greens. This is really simple – just put them in a large pot of salted water and cook until they are wilted (about 30 seconds). Using tongs, transfer the greens to a large bowl of ice water. This step will preserve your beautiful, light green color. After cooling, squeeze out all the water from the greens and set aside.
  • Boil the pasta bowls in the same pot of water that you used for the greens. The water will have a funny greenish-yellow hue, but the pasta will turn out perfectly. We will cook the mussels until they are almost al dente — in other words, we want them to be beautifully pliable, but not quite tender. They will finish cooking in the oven.
  • Then whip the filling in the food processor. Since we mix garlic and chives, we do not need to finely chop them by hand.
    Fill each bowl with a generous spoonful of filling and place them in tight little rows over bakers lined with marinara.
  • Pour marinara sauce over the mussels. We don’t need you fully covered. Finish them with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
    Bake and serve.

Tips for stuffed mussels

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For this recipe, get out your biggest pot and your biggest baking dish. Ideally, use a 5.5 liter or larger Dutch oven or stockpot to cook the vegetables and pasta. Then put all the cooked vegetables in a very large bowl with ice water. Finally, you will need an extra-large baker (even larger than 9 x 13 inches) or a combination of two bakers, as you can see below (for example, 9 x 13 and 8 x 8).

The filling comes together well in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, no problem. Chop the ingredients (chop the chives and garlic finely and cut the cooked vegetables into very small pieces) and mix the ingredients by hand.

To save time, use store-bought marinara sauce. My favorites are Rao’s (it’s pretty close to my homemade marinara) or Newman’s Own Organic. I try to avoid marinaras with added sugar, as it is unnecessary. Or make my homemade marinara sauce the night before (be sure to double the recipe to have enough).

Save time (and money) by using frozen greens. Frozen greens are cheaper and are great for this recipe. Just thaw them in a colander under running water, squeeze out excess water and you’re good to go.

These clams make great leftovers! Store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for several months.

spinach-ricotta-stuffed mussels before baking

Recipe variations for stuffed mussels

I am absolutely delighted with this recipe, as described below. Here are some fun ways to change it:

For lighter, less cheesy bowls, use half as much mozzarella or omit it altogether.

For normal cheese peels (not vegetables), double the ricotta, finely chop the chives, squeeze or chop the garlic and stir the mixture by hand.

For vegetable peels, replace the vegetables with about 2 cups of boiled or roasted vegetables.

For dairy-free or vegan bowls, use my vegan sour cream instead of the ricotta and sprinkle some vegan Parmesan on top. More details can be found in the recipe notes

Fancy more naughty Italian dishes?

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Best vegetable lasagna or vegan lasagna
  • Baked ziti with roasted vegetables or lentils baked ziti
  • Roasted ratatouille
  • Italian Eggplant Parmesan
  • Spaghetti-pumpkin- “Pizza” bowls

I would serve this or one of the above recipes with my Italian chopped salad – even a simplified version would be perfect.

Please let me know how your shells turn out in the comments. I like to hear from you and I hope that this recipe is a big hit.

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