I love the idea of a Christmas pasta.
Especially one that is decadent and feels fancy.
Stuffed shells, to me, always feel special. They are always so cheesy and comforting. I think they’re just perfect for serving over the holidays.
These stuffed shells are a riff on the famous and beloved spinach and artichoke dip. While the experience is a bit different, there are a lot of things in common here. These shells are cheesy and creamy, like the dip, and the filling has both spinach and artichoke hearts in it. We have the dip flavors going on throughout the pasta dish.
The major difference here, aside from the fact that we’re talking about a dip vs. a stuffed pasta, is the asiago cream that these shells swim in.
Swim in? Yes. Let’s make that a thing. I would dive right in.
The asiago cream adds so much flavor and decadence here, and it’s the perfect vehicle for the spinach/artichoke/cheesy stuffed shells.
Cheese on cheese is the way to be! Especially this time of year. Especially THIS particular year. We all need the extra comfort. Embrace it. Save those kale salads for January.
Right now, we need cheese and we need it now.
This sort of dish is wonderful to plan on for the holidays, big or small. You can prep it completely ahead and bake it off just when you need it. You can bake it and set it out to let people help themselves. It’s impressive. People ooh and ahh when you put a pan of stuffed shells out.
You can halve it if your gathering is going to look different this year. Or you can double it and freeze one pan to have later. One thing is for sure, no matter what your celebrations are going to look like this year, they deserve these stuffed shells.
Dan isn’t a huge fan of spinach and artichoke dip (I don’t know what’s wrong with him), but he thoroughly enjoyed these! He said they did taste like the dip and had some of the same textures going on, but that the warm cheesy factor sold him on things.
My husband is a sucker for a cheesy cream sauce. I could probably get him to eat just about anything if I poured cheesy cream sauce over top.
This is the sort of dish I envision for our Christmas Eve. Pre-pandemic, we would always keep Christmas Eve on the simpler, easier side and save all the big celebrations (aka, fancy foods) for Christmas day. I have made pasta dishes for Christmas Eve before, and they’re always a hit. I like to serve them with an easy side dish, usually a big beautiful salad, and some rolls.
Simple. Not fussy. But completely delicious. Your guests (if you’re having any) will be thrilled. I promise.
It’s pure comfort food, and like I said, we should all be sending 2020 out with as much of that as possible.Print
These Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Asiago Cream are a heavenly vegetarian stuffed pasta dish that is simple enough to make anytime but impressive and decadent enough to make for a special occasion. The flavors of the classic and beloved spinach and artichoke dip are wrapped up in a cheesy pasta package that is sure to make everyone smile.
- 20 jumbo pasta shells, cooked to el dente and drained (roughly half of a standard package)
- 1 (10-oz) package frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed as dry as possible
- 1 (15-oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped (See NOTE)
- 1 (15-oz) container of whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
- 8 oz asiago cheese, grated, divided
- 16 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (low-moisture mozzarella)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2½ cups whole milk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- Cook the pasta shells according to the package directions. Drain and rinse under cool water.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the filling by combining the spinach, artichoke hearts, ricotta, shallot, garlic, 2 oz of the grated asiago, and 4 oz of the grated mozzarella. Mix well and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the egg.
- For the asiago cream, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour until a paste forms and then cook for a minute.
- Slowly stream in the milk, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently, and cook until it is thickened and creamy. Stir in the remaining asiago cheese and cook until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
- Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and pour roughly half of the asiago cream into the bottom of the dish, spreading it out evenly.
- Fill the pasta shells with the ricotta filling and place them in the cream sauce in the baking dish.
- Once all the shells have been filled and placed in the dish, pour the remaining asiago cream over top of them as evenly as possible.
- Top with the remaining grated mozzarella cheese.
- Transfer to a 350°F oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and golden in spots. If desired, broil the top for a minute, watching carefully, until a deeply golden crust forms on top of the shells.
- Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
- Canned artichokes in water work best for this recipe. Avoid hearts canned in vinegar, if possible, because the vinegar changes both the flavor and texture.
- Frozen and defrosted artichoke hearts also work wonderfully here.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: pasta
Keywords: spinach and artichoke stuffed shells, spinach and artichoke pasta, spinach and artichoke dip pasta, asiago cream sauce