Stuffed Shells with Summer Squash and Ricotta

It's summer squash season! Try these Stuffed Shells with Yellow Squash and Ricotta for an easy and delicious summertime meal. Easy to make ahead and also freezes well!

Baked ricotta and squash stuffed shells with sauce in a white baking dish
Nick Evans

Summer squash is wonderful this time of year. If you're lucky enough to know any gardeners, they might be giving the stuff away. Say yes and make these summer squash-stuffed shells! (Then give them some as a thank-you!)

When you sauté yellow summer squash with onions and add a little ricotta and mozzarella, you get a great pasta stuffing that's a bit lighter than your standard meat-stuffed Italian dish – in other words, perfect for summer.

Ricotta stuffed shells with red sauce in a white baking dish
Nick Evans

What Kind of Squash to Use

I used yellow squash for this recipe, but feel free to substitute another summer squash like zucchini, or butternut or acorn squash in the fall. (Just be sure to roast the butternut or acorn squash first before mixing with the ricotta filling.)

How to Make the Filling

I kept the filling for these shells very simple. I didn't want to add too many flavors and overpower the squash, so I just sautéed some onions and squash in olive oil then stirred that into ricotta, mozzarella, and an egg for a little binder. That’s all you need!

I also used red sauce to cover the shells, as I thought a cream sauce might be too heavy. You can use any tomato sauce you like. To keep it simple, I just used a store-bought marinara sauce and it worked great, though you could certainly make your own.

Cheesy meat-free stuffed shells with ricotta and red sauce on a spoon
Nick Evans

Don't Overcook the Shells!

Make sure you don't overcook the shells when you boil them! If anything, pull them out a minute early so they still have plenty of integrity to them. If you overcook them, they will fall apart when you try to stuff them.

Make-Ahead and Freezing

This is one of the more involved Eat Your Food! recipes I’ve done, but the good news is that it can be done entirely ahead of time. Stuff the shells up to three days in advance and have them ready in the fridge.

Also, the dish freezes well. After baking, freeze the entire dish of shells (or just the leftovers) in an airtight freezer-safe container, and they will keep for a few months. Don't keep them much longer than that or you risk freezer burn.

To reheat the shells from the freezer, bake them covered with foil until the center is warmed through and the cheese is melty, an hour or so at 350 ̊F.

the inside of a stuffed pasta shell with ricotta and yellow squash on a blue plate
Nick Evans

The Dad Add: Prosciutto Crispies

This is a classy topper for pasta dishes, but it takes these stuffed shells to the next level. Slowly sauté prosciutto until crispy, then chop it up and cook it with breadcrumbs until everything is browned and crunchy. I call this a Dad Add but everybody in my family was into this addition.

The Kid Report Card

Stuffed foods are one of my favorites, but they can be a tough sell for my kids. ("What's going on in there?!") The first thing my kids usually do when I serve them something stuffed is reject it. (For these stuffed shells, my 2-year old immediately requested that I "clean" the pasta. I get it.)

The second thing they do is deconstruct the thing on their plates, which I'm generally fine with that as long as they then eat it!

I was very worried about these shells because they look... complicated. So I ended up chopping up the shells and scooping out the filling. Interestingly, both my kids tried both the shells and the filling, they just didn’t want them together! But I didn’t have to make a second dinner, so I call that a win!

More Terrific Summer Squash Recipes:

Stuffed Shells with Summer Squash and Ricotta

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 75 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced

  • 2 cups yellow squash, chopped (from about 2 small squash)

  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese

  • 8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 12 ounces large pasta shells (about 30)

  • 2 cups marinara sauce

  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

DAD ADD: Prosciutto Crispies

  • 3 ounces prosciutto

  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Cook the onions and squash:

    In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and squash and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

    Sautee yellow squash and onions in a skillet
    Nick Evans
  2. Make the filling:

    In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, mozzarella, egg, and salt. When squash and onion are at room temperature, add them to the cheese mixture along with any oil in the skillet. Stir well.

    Mix mozzarella and egg in a glass bowl
    Nick Evans
    Mix cooked squash with ricotta in a glass bowl
    Nick Evans
  3. Cook the shells:

    Cook shells according to package instructions, until al dente. Be sure not to overcook the shells or they will fall apart while baking. When shells are cooked, drain and let cool until they are cool enough to handle.

    Uncooked pasta shells in a stainless steel colander
    Nick Evans
  4. Fill the shells:

    Spread one cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of the squash and ricotta mixture. Place the filled shell in the baking dish. Repeat until you run out of filling or shells. You should get about 30 shells.

    Ricotta and squash stuffed shells in a white baking dish
    Nick Evans
  5. Add the sauce:

    Spoon the rest of the marinara over the shells and dot the surface of the shells with a little extra mozzarella cheese (optional). Season the dish with fresh thyme and black pepper.

  6. Bake the shells:

    Bake the shells at 350°F for 30 minutes until the cheese in the filling has melted and the marinara is bubbling.

    Stuffed pasta shells with ricotta and summer squash
    Nick Evans
  7. Make the prosciutto crispy topper (optional):

    Tear the prosciutto into pieces. Add to a medium skillet. Cook over medium-low heat until prosciutto starts to brown and turn crispy. Remove from skillet and dice.

    Return the diced prosciutto to the skillet. Add breadcrumbs and olive oil. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until breadcrumbs are brown and crispy. Remove and let cool, then sprinkle over pasta!

    Roast prosciutto in a skillet till brown and crispy
    Nick Evans

    Leftovers: You can freeze the shells before baking or freeze the leftovers. Cool them to room temperature and then seal them in a freezer-safe container. Use them within a month or two. Reheat shells in a microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
288 Calories
14g Fat
26g Carbs
15g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 288
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 56mg 19%
Sodium 640mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 15g
Vitamin C 6mg 31%
Calcium 267mg 21%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 443mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.