This is actually better than stuffed shells made with just cheese. The texture and taste of the cauliflower mash makes this creamy, filling, and comforting -- and there's still plenty of cheese to get your fix! It's a great source of veggies, a perfect meatless Monday option, and freezes well (if you have any leftovers...which has only happened once). This is actually requested over full cheese versions among my friends now!


Recipe Summary

1 hr
1 hr 15 mins
15 mins
18 shells


Original recipe yields 6 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in pasta shells and return to a boil. Cook pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, about 9 minutes. Drain.

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

  • Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add cauliflower, cover, and steam until very soft, 5 to 8 minutes.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced garlic; cook and stir until golden, about 5 minutes. Add crumbled red pepper pods. Raise heat to medium-high and add cauliflower; cut up and smash with a spatula. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Cook and stir, mashing occasionally, until mixture has rough consistency of mashed potatoes, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.

  • Rinse and dry skillet. Add 1 tablespoon oil and place on medium heat. Add 2 cloves minced garlic; cook and stir until golden, about 2 minutes. Add spinach and stir until reduced down, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and garlic to the bowl with cauliflower mixture.

  • Stir Italian cheese blend, ricotta cheese, 3 tablespoons basil, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, and black pepper into the spinach-cauliflower mixture to make the filling.

  • Mix remaining 2 cloves minced garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons basil, and oregano into the can of crushed tomatoes. Pour 1/3 of tomato sauce mixture into the bottom of a 9x13-inch glass baking pan.

  • Stuff cooked pasta shells with the filling and place seam-side up in the baking dish. Spoon remaining tomato sauce over shells and in any gaps between. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until top is bubbling, about 15 minutes more.

Cook's Note:

Substitute shredded mozzarella cheese for the Italian cheese blend if desired.

Nutrition Facts

377 calories; protein 19g; carbohydrates 43.4g; fat 16.1g; cholesterol 29.5mg; sodium 1090.4mg. Full Nutrition