Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce

5 from 2 votes

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Bright and fresh flavors of lemon, zucchini, and pesto in a stuffed shell recipe.

Fresh and bright flavors in a classic Italian dinner recipe. Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce are stuffed with zucchini, lemon, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese. Topped with creamy basil pesto sauce. Vegetarian. #italianrecipes #stuffedshells #zucchinirecipes #pestoJumbo pasta shells stuffed with Parmesan and ricotta cheese, mixed with lemon and zucchini.  Served with a creamy pesto sauce.

Fresh and bright flavors in a classic Italian dinner recipe. Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce are stuffed with zucchini, lemon, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese. Topped with creamy basil pesto sauce. Vegetarian. #italianrecipes #stuffedshells #zucchinirecipes #pestoThis post contains affiliate links.

I am a sucker for Italian food.  It is one of my favorite things and there are so many amazing Italian recipes that I love.  Stuffed shells are something I have always enjoyed and I love to create new flavor profiles.  Zucchini and lemon are perfect together and provide a lighter, fresher flavor to Italian food.  These Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce are a fun twist on a classic Italian recipe.

Fresh and bright flavors in a classic Italian dinner recipe. Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce are stuffed with zucchini, lemon, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese. Topped with creamy basil pesto sauce. Vegetarian. #italianrecipes #stuffedshells #zucchinirecipes #pestoOne of my favorite pastas to make when I want something a little lighter, but am still craving pasta, uses zucchini and lemon as the stars.  These Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce were inspired by that recipe.  The pesto sauce is a perfect herb-focused compliment to these flavors.  

Fresh and bright flavors in a classic Italian dinner recipe. Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce are stuffed with zucchini, lemon, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese. Topped with creamy basil pesto sauce. Vegetarian. #italianrecipes #stuffedshells #zucchinirecipes #pestoTo make the Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce, make your cheese mixture with zucchini and lemon, pesto sauce, and cook the shells.  Thin out the pesto sauce with some heavy cream or milk as it will thicken in the oven as it cooks.  Being a sauce lover, I also like to leave some extra sauce for topping off when serving.  Stuff each pasta shell and place in a baking dish.  Cover the shells with the creamy pesto sauce, some Mozzarella cheese, and a little Parmesan.  Bake off until heated through and the top cheese is melted and golden, approximately 20 minutes.

Fresh and bright flavors in a classic Italian dinner recipe. Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce are stuffed with zucchini, lemon, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese. Topped with creamy basil pesto sauce. Vegetarian. #italianrecipes #stuffedshells #zucchinirecipes #pestoThese Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce can easily be made in advance and frozen for a quick and easy dinner.  They would also be great with a red sauce like our Simple Marinara Sauce.  Meat eaters?  Easily mix in some shredded chicken or sausage to the cheese.  

Fresh and bright flavors in a classic Italian dinner recipe. Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce are stuffed with zucchini, lemon, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese. Topped with creamy basil pesto sauce. Vegetarian. #italianrecipes #stuffedshells #zucchinirecipes #pesto

Fresh and bright flavors in a classic Italian dinner recipe. Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce are stuffed with zucchini, lemon, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese. Topped with creamy basil pesto sauce. Vegetarian. #italianrecipes #stuffedshells #zucchinirecipes #pesto Fresh and bright flavors in a classic Italian dinner recipe. Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce are stuffed with zucchini, lemon, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese. Topped with creamy basil pesto sauce. Vegetarian. #italianrecipes #stuffedshells #zucchinirecipes #pesto

Zucchini Lemon Stuffed Shells with Creamy Pesto Sauce

Bright and fresh flavors of lemon, zucchini, and pesto in a stuffed shell recipe.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pasta, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 24 shells
Calories: 202kcal

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces jumbo shells
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium zucchini finely diced (approximately 1/2 pound total, 8 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Pesto Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups basil pesto (click for recipe, or any pesto you like)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (or milk, see note in step 3)

Cheese Mixture

Instructions

  • Heat a large pot of water until boiling. Cook the jumbo shells until al dente as per package direction, approximately 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
    12 ounces jumbo shells
  • In a small bowl, combine the pesto sauce with heavy cream. Add additional cream or water until you get a sauce that is your desired creaminess and consistency, keeping in mind that the sauce will thicken as it bakes in the oven. (You could also substitute cream and water for milk).
    1 1/2 cups basil pesto, 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • While the pasta is cooking, combine all of the cheese mixture ingredients and set aside. (Zest the lemon into the cheese mixture, then juice. For a heavy lemon flavor, use two full lemons).
    3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 15 ounces ricotta cheese, 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 large egg, 1 Tablespoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 1/2 lemons
  • Also while the pasta is cooking, heat a large non stick skillet with 2 Tablespoons of oil. When hot, add the diced zucchini and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook until the zucchini is tender, approximately 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
    2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 medium zucchini
  • Heat the oven to 375℉.
  • When everything is ready, combine the zucchini in the cheese mixture and mix.
  • Place a little of your sauce in the bottom of your baking dish to cover. Using a spoon, scoop approximately 1.5-2 Tablespoons of the cheese mixture into each shell. Place the shell in the baking dish, open side up.
  • Repeat with the remaining cheese mixture and shells.
  • Cover the shells with the creamy pesto sauce, 3/4 cup mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Add more or less sauce and cheese as desired.
  • Bake at 375℉ until the cheese is melted and starting to brown on top, approximately 20 minutes.
  • Garnish with additional fresh basil if desired and serve immediately.

Notes

The exact number of shells will vary based on how much you stuff them.
You can use any pesto sauce, but I love my homemade pesto recipe which you can find here.  One batch is the perfect amount for this recipe.  https://www.threeolivesbranch.com/basil-pesto/  
To ensure a truly vegetarian dish, ensure you are using vegetarian cheeses.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (1 shell) | Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 301mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 545IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 1mg
By on March 13th, 2019

About Kim

Kim has grown up with a passion for cooking good food! You can find her in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, making dog treats, and eating Italian food!

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