This recipe is one that I kind of pulled out of my head last minute. I brought these slow cooked stuffed shells to work for our annual Thanksgiving potluck this year. It kind of went like, “what’s an Italian pasta dish that everyone will like that won’t dry out in my slow cooker”.
Every year I try to bring something that shares what my family and I eat for the holidays. For Christmas we usually always have lasagna – both bolognese and meatless. Except for those rare years where my grandma made ravioli from scratch <3…and not to mention zuppa di pesce (feast of the 7 fishes) on Christmas Eve the night before. Yep, we’re just one big stereotypical Italian pasta loving family. If it means getting to eat slow cooked stuffed shells layered like its lasagna, I’m okay with this.
Anyway – back to the slow cooker. Who knew pasta could be cooked in there. I feel like I may be violating some Italian law. This took minimal effort and my dish was ready 3 hours later for our 12:30pm potluck lunch. In the past years I even went a step easier and made slow cooker baked ziti, no stuffing required. However, the stuffed shells resulted in zero being leftover.
For this recipe I used my typical tomato sauce recipe. I started by mixing ricotta with an egg, parmesan, mozzarella, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, some garlic powder, and a couple tablespoons of minced fresh parsley. Then I scooped this all into a resealable zip lock bag and cut off a small corner. I then used this to quickly pipe the ricotta filling into the hard uncooked shells. (They’re way easier to fill than cooked shells too!)
As I worked, I layered into my crockpot: sauce, single layer of stuffed shells, mozzarella, repeat. I was able to fit about 3 layers of pasta in there. On the final layer I topped with the remaining sauce, mozzarella, and parsley. Also note that even if it looks like you have room for more, the pasta will expand!
That’s it! The rest of the work is all done by your slow cooker. Put this on high heat for 3.5 hours or low heat for 7. This would also make a ton of servings for you to make just once and eat all week.
- 32 ounces skim ricotta
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- ½ cup grated skim mozzarella + 1 cup for layering
- Pinch of sea salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- ½ tbsp garlic powder
- 3 tbsp minced fresh parsley
- 4 cups tomato sauce
Start by mixing the ricotta in a bowl with the egg, parmesan, ½ cup mozzarella, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, some garlic powder, and 2 of the tablespoons of minced fresh parsley.
Scoop this all into a large resealable zip lock bag and cut off a small corner.
Spread one even layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the crock pot.
Pipe the ricotta into the hard uncooked pasta shells and as you work, layer them right on top of the sauce.
Spread ⅓ of the mozzarella on top of the shells. Repeat this sequence 2 more times: sauce, shells, cheese.
On top of the last layer of pasta, top with sauce, cheese, and remaining parsley.
It might look like you have room for more, but pasta will expand.
If the steam is making the sauce watery, take the lid off of the slow cooker for a little.
It might look like you have room for more, but pasta will expand. If the steam is making the sauce watery, take the lid off of the slow cooker for a little.