Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Savory 3-Cheese Stuffed Shells

Three cheese stuffed shells

Move over, lasagna! This dish is a tasty way to get baked cheesy goodness without juggling long strips of pasta. I’m including a simple savory tomato sauce if you’d like to make your own (you can do this up to three days in advance), but a good quality store-bought one will make the prep quite fast.


For the tomato sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • One 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 20-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of sea salt

For the shells:

  • 1 pound jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 pound mozzarella, divided use 
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Make the sauce: Heat a large saucepan; when hot, add the olive oil, garlic, and onions, and then sauté until soft but not browned. Push the vegetables to the outside of the pan and add the tomato paste to the center; sauté the paste until it browns to release its flavors. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, then add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, oregano, and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes (or more) while you prepare the shells. 

Step 2

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and add the shells and the salt. Cook according to package directions for al dente (don’t overcook, as the shells will soften more in the oven). 

Step 3

While they’re boiling, line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cut 12 ounces of the mozzarella into small cubes; shred the rest and set aside. Add the mozzarella cubes to a large bowl along with the ricotta, one cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, the olive oil, egg, oregano, nutmeg, and black pepper; mix thoroughly. 

Step 4

Drain the shells, place them on the prepared sheet pan, and use a small spoon to fill them with the cheese mixture. Lightly coat a large baking dish with olive oil and add half the sauce; use an offset spatula to spread it out evenly. Place the filled shells in the dish in rows and cover with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle on the grated mozzarella and the rest of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese topping is thoroughly melted and slightly browned. 

Yields 4-6 servings