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Valentine’s Day Recipes: Stuffed Shells

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UGA chapter.

Valentine’s Day sucks.


Before you read too much into that opening statement (“She must be single. I bet she has, like, 12 cats. Or maybe she just got dumped…”), I want to stress that those sentiments have nothing to do with being surrounded by sappy couples and constant reminders of the romantic evening you plan to spend with the pint of Half Baked in your freezer. Prepare yourself for the shocking secret I’m about to tell you.


Are you ready?


Valentine’s Day sucks for people in relationships, too. 


Think about it.  There’s all this pressure to make everything perfect—perfect outfit, perfect gift (because chocolate and roses and stuffed animals are so unoriginal), and, most importantly, finding the perfect place to eat the most romantic meal you’ll have all year.  That perfect dinner reservation is nearly impossible to make, and even if you do manage to score a candle-lit table for two at that adorable French place you still aren’t out of the woods yet.  The lights will be too dim to read a menu by, the place will be so crowded that going to the restroom will trigger your Black Friday PTSD and the food probably won’t be worth that triple-digit bill at the end of the night.


Valentine’s Day doesn’t sound so great anymore, does it?


Luckily, some of these hardships can be avoided.  I can’t help you with finding great gifts or the perfect LRD (little red dress), but I can definitely help out with the food problem.  I’ll even let you in on another little secret: the way to anyone’s heart is through his or her stomach.  So why stress over a reservation when you can be a thousand times more impressive if you cook yourself?


Cooking comes from the heart, and nothing says, “I love you” like warm, cheesy, carb-filled goodness. That’s right, folks, we’re whipping up some stuffed shells in the love shack tonight.


Stuffed shells are perfect.  They’re filling and easily customized—you can add some Italian sausage for a little meat, add some spinach or use any spices you want depending on your taste (oregano, basil and sage are probably best, though). I’ll give you guys a basic outline, but life wouldn’t be fun if you couldn’t color outside the lines sometimes. So make it yours and have fun with it! (Also, this entire recipe costs less than $10. Your college student bank account is going to thank you.)



12 oz. jumbo pasta shells

15 oz. ricotta

1 cup shredded mozzarella

½ cup basil pesto

1 large egg

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 jar of pasta sauce



  1. Combine ricotta, mozzarella, pesto and the egg in a mixing bowl. You can prepare this part ahead of time and stow it, covered, in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook.
  2. Cook the pasta shells according to the directions on the box. You can add the 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to the boiling water so the noodles don’t stick together or to the bottom of the pot. Be careful not to over cook the shells, because they’ll rip easily and become too mushy once cooked with the filling and sauce.  Once they’re done, drain and rinse them with cold water so they don’t continue to cook. Drain them really well.
  3. If you want to add anything extra to the cheese mixture, now is the time to do it. You can add 1-2 cups of chopped spinach, any type of cooked meat (I suggest Italian sausage), some fresh basil or pretty much anything you want!
  4. Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Put the shells on a baking sheet to fill them.  They’ll be pretty closed, so hold them open gently with one hand while you use the other to spoon 3 Tbsp. of the cheese mixture into each shell.  The shells should be full enough to stay slightly open when you let them go.
  5. Spread a cup of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a glass baking dish. You want to pack the shells in tightly in a single layer so they don’t dry out while baking. After adding the shells into the dish, pour the remaining sauce over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling around the edges. 


That’s it! Easy, right? Put together a tossed or Caesar salad while the pasta is baking and toast some garlic bread for a complete meal your V-Day company can’t say no to. If you want to pull out the big guns, turn your kitchen into that fancy French place by setting the table and placing a small vase of flowers off to one side.


Spending the evening single? Invite some girl friends over to make this with you and watch your favorite movie after. Or just eat on the couch while watching the movie in your yoga pants—cause single girls can do that. And it’s awesome.

Cassie used to work for Vogue and spend Sunday mornings drinking English Breakfast Tea in her rooftop garden while updating her food blog, but then she woke up and realized she was late for her photojournalism class. Now she spends her time counting down to her May 2013 graduation from UGA and writing about food and fashion, because that's really all she's good at. If you have nothing better to do, you can follow her on Twitter here.