Pesto Unstuffed Shells Recipe

If you want cheese, these Pesto Unstuffed Shells are the best thing ever! Ideal for when you want a simple and comfortable dinner.


for the ricotta mixture: – 1 cup whole milk ricotta – 3 garlic cloves minced – ½ cup julienned fresh basil plus more for serving – 1 teaspoon lemon zest – 2 tablespoons lemon juice – ½ teaspoon kosher salt – ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan for the breadcrumbs: – ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs (sub gluten-free panko for gluten-free) – 2 tablespoons olive oil – ¼ teaspoon kosher salt – 1 teaspoon dried oregano – 1 teaspoon paprika


for the pasta: – 1 lb. jumbo shell pasta (sub gluten-free pasta for gluten-free; see note) – Kosher salt – 1 cup basil pesto store bought or homemade for assembly and serving: – 1 cup shredded mozzarella – ½ cup freshly grated parmesan – ½ cup toasted pine nut


Pre-heat the oven to 375℉. Grease a 9x13 baking dish or oven-safe braiser with olive oil and leave aside.

Step 1

combine the ricotta:- Mix ricotta, garlic, basil, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and parmesan in a medium bowl. Store in the fridge until assembly.

Step 2

make breadcrumbs:- Stir the panko, oil, salt, oregano, and paprika in a medium bowl to coat evenly. Set aside.

Step 3

create pasta:- Boil a large stockpot of water. Add spaghetti and sprinkle salt (1 tbsp). Cover and cook 12 minutes until al dente. Save 1 cup pasta water. Return spaghetti to pot after draining.

Step 4

Place pesto, ¼ cup pasta water, and ½ ricotta mixture in the pot. Add pasta water if needed to coat the shells and make the sauce smooth and glossy.

Step 5

assemble:- Put the pasta and sauce in the baking dish and spread evenly. Spoon the leftover ricotta mixture over the shells. Add mozzarella and parmesan. 

Step 6

Finally, top the dish with breadcrumbs very evenly. Bake for 20 minutes until bubbling and golden. Add more fresh basil and toasted pine nuts. Enjoy!

Step 7

Also See

Bbq Pulled Pork Bowls Recipe