Enchanting Marry Me Ricotta Shells


Enchanting Marry Me Ricotta Shells

Prepare to cast a love spell with this divine dish that has captured hearts and won over taste buds. Legend has it that this dish can make anyone fall head over heels in love with you, enough to want to marry you. Trust me, I know first hand as I made this for my husband when we were newly dating and he whispered in my ear “marry me,” and seven years later, I did.

The magic begins with a luscious filling made with a creamy blend of cheeses, ricotta and Parmesan generously mixed with vibrant baby spinach, fresh basil, and aromatic thyme and oregano. A pinch of nutmeg adds a touch of warmth, while crushed garlic infuses it with a tantalizing aroma.

As the pasta shells cook to almost al dente perfection, they eagerly await to be filled with this irresistible ricotta mixture. But not before a rich tomato sauce is prepared to envelop them in a cosy embrace. Sautéed garlic dances in extra virgin olive oil, creating a fragrant base for crushed tomatoes and passata. A sprinkle of herbs and a handful of fresh basil add a burst of flavour to the sauce that will be the perfect partner for the shells.

To ensure the shells soak up all the deliciousness, it’s best to half-boil them, allowing them to expand and create space for more of that delightful ricotta filling. And don’t forget to save some pasta water, as it’s the secret ingredient that will transform your sauce into a silky, luscious delight for the shells to soak in.

Once the shells are filled to the brim with the ricotta mixture, they nestle in the bed of tomato sauce, topped with a generous sprinkle of mozzarella, more Parmesan cheese and pine nuts for a delightful crunch. A final flourish of fresh basil adds a burst of colour and aroma that is sure to capture anyone’s heart.

Bake this enchanting dish in the oven, allowing the flavours to meld together and the sauce to thicken into a tantalisingly rich consistency. The anticipation builds as the aroma fills your kitchen, drawing in your loved one with its irresistible allure.

When it’s time to serve, be prepared for sighs of delight and declarations of love as each mouthful of tender pasta, creamy ricotta filling, and robust tomato sauce leaves your guests yearning for more. Pair it with a peppery rocket salad for a refreshing contrast that adds a touch of elegance to this love-inducing dish.

So, go ahead and give it a try. Let the magic of the marrying of three cheeses, vibrant spinach, and basil cast its spell and capture the heart of your special someone. Who knows, they might just whisper those magical words, “marry me,” as they savour the irresistible flavours of this unforgettable dish.

Thank me later…



Enchanting Marry Me Ricotta Shells

Let the magic of the marrying of three cheeses, vibrant spinach, and basil cast its spell and capture the heart of your special someone. Who knows, they might just whisper those magical words, "marry me," as they savour the irresistible flavours of this unforgettable dish.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Dinner, Entertaining, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 people (2 trays)


  • Ingredients:

For the spinach and ricotta filling:

  • 200 g fresh baby spinach raw and finely chopped. You don’t need to precooked it
  • 1 kg fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme minced (or 1 tsp dry)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano minced (or 1 tsp dry)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil optional
  • Note: if your ricotta is very dry add in 1/4C of water to loosen it up (optional)

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 3 400g cans of good quality crushed tomato 1200g all up
  • 1 700g bottle of tomato passata or puree
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • a few sprigs of fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste1/2 tsp crushed black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil chopped

For assembling:

  • 500 g large pasta shells
  • 100 g mozzarella cheese shredded. I love to use fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnishing


  • Instructions:
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt well. Add in your pasta shells and cook them for half the time specified on the pack. Retain 2-3C of pasta water, drain and rinse the shells under cold water to cool them down slightly and set aside.
  • In the same pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato passata, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add in your pasta water, you want a thin sauce as the pasta shells will soak it up later thickening it in the oven. Stir well and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, add the fresh basil and set aside.
  • Prepare the spinach and ricotta filling by combining the chopped baby spinach, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, thyme, oregano, minced basil, salt, pepper, crushed garlic in a mixing bowl. Stir well to form a smooth paste. If the mixture is too thick, add the olive oil and about 1/4C of water to loosen it.
  • Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F) and allow it to warm up whilst your stuff your shells
  • To assemble the dish, spoon a generous amount of the tomato sauce into the bottom of your chosen baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with a heaped spoonful of the spinach and ricotta filling and place them on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Repeat until all the shells are filled.
  • Once all the shells are filled, spoon more tomato sauce in if needed to ensure they are mostly covered. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts evenly over the top.
  • Cover in baking paper and foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the sauce is thickened. I like to remove the cover for the last 10 minutes to allow the cheese to get some colour.
  • Remove from the oven and let the dish cool for a few minutes. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.


Serve the Marry Me Ricotta Shells hot, accompanied by a refreshing rocket salad if desired. Enjoy the enchanting flavours and the potential love-inducing magic of this dish!
Note: this will make 2 medium sized trays. Baked one for now and freeze one for later!
Keyword best ricotta stuffed pasta shells, Dinner, marry me pasta shells, pasta, ricotta and spinach pasta shells, ricotta shells, ricotta stuffed pasta shells, stuffed ricotta shells


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Meet Marianne

brunching, baking and sipping tea


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