The magic of a little freshly grated nutmeg is most pronounced in dairy, making stuffed shells a perfect occasion to use this special spice that rarely sees the light of day outside of baked goods and holiday drinks. This recipe stays pretty true to the classic blueprint because sometimes simple is simply better.
You can choose between Parmesan or pecorino cheese—both are delicious. If you want to switch up the regular mozzarella for some Fontina or caciocavallo, more power to you!
For more classic pasta & sauce recipes, check out chicken Pram pasta and everything bagel pasta! If you’ve made this recipe, drop us a comment down below and let us know how you liked it! Cook pasta shells according to package directions until al dente, 6 to 7 minutes. Drain immediately and shake dry completely. In a large bowl, stir together egg, ricotta, 1 ¼ cup mozzarella, ½ cup Parmesan, spinach, thyme, nutmeg, pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon zest (if using), salt, and garlic until smooth. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready for use.
Preheat oven to 375°. In a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add garlic and cook until lightly golden, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add nutmeg and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add marinara and sugar and stir until combined. Transfer 2 cups of marinara to another bowl. Spread remaining 1 cup marinara evenly across the skillet.
Fill pasta shells with 1 tablespoon ricotta mixture each and place in the skillet. Spoon remaining sauce over top. Top with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake, covered loosely, until cheese is melty, about 30 minutes. Remove foil, then bake until cheese begins to turn golden, about 10 minutes.
Garnish with remaining Parmesan, nutmeg, and herbs before serving, if desired.