04 March 2010

Conchiglioni Al Forno



I had to do a search for the name of this pasta dish. I knew about it, I hadn't tried it, but it was hovering there in my mind, ready to be pulled forth and thrown together.

I cannot resist trying different pasta shapes, so when I saw these giant shells, my hand reached for them even before my brain had clicked into gear. I had no clear idea of what I would use them for, I just had to have them. A bit like shoes in that respect. No snidey comments please Graham, oh husband of mine!

So these gorgeous giant shells sat in the cupboard looking pretty until one evening, when my brother-in-law was coming for dinner. I wanted to make something different, but didn't want to do a big shop (hey I have a baby now, shopping isn't such a pleasure any more).

I had ricotta in the fridge, left over from making cheesecake brownies, spinach in the salad drawer, waiting to be made into soup and I always have ingredients to hand for making a basic tomato sauce. So Conchiglioni Al Forno seemed like a good option. Of course at that point it was giant shells, stuffed with spinach and ricotta and topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella.

It is a great dish, but I somewhat spoiled mine. I only made one portion of tomato sauce and so when it came to layering the dish, I soon ran out and resorted to opening a carton of passata. The passata was slightly bitter and cannot be compared to a fresh tomato sauce, so I will be writing out the recipe for you with double the quantity of my normal sauce and I beg of you, do not use passata in this dish as a shortcut. Take the extra time and make a fresh sauce that will make your toes curl in pleasure (we are back to the shoes again!). Extra mozzarella on top would be nice too, but only for cheese-fiends like us.























Conchiglioni Al Forno

Pasta

350g Conchiglioni

Cook in plenty of water according to the packet instructions until al dente. Rinse in cold water and set aside until you are ready to put the dish together.

Basic Tomato Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped,
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 x 400g/14oz tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 handful freshly torn basil
Salt & pepper to taste


Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil, until the onion is translucent. Pour in both tins of tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes, until reduced and thickened. Season to taste, then add the basil at the last minute.

Stuffing

160g baby spinach
500g ricotta cheese
a good grating of nutmeg
salt and pepper


Place the spinach in a colander and pour over boiling water. The spinach doesn't need cooked, this softening is enough. Pour some cold water over the spinach and squeeze out as much of the water as you can before dabbing in a tea towel. Roughly chop the spinach and place in a bowl. Add the ricotta cheese and mix thoroughly. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Topping

2 balls mozzarella, grated
fresh basil leaves


Assembling The Dish

* Spread approximately one third of the tomato sauce across the base of a large ovenproof dish.

* Fill each pasta shell with the ricotta mix and place on top of the sauce until you have covered the base of the dish. Place the pasta open side up.

* Drizzle tomato sauce over the filled pasta and sprinkle with some fresh basil.

* Build another layer of filled pasta, cover with the remaining sauce and more basil.

* Top the finished dish with grated mozzarella.

* Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned golden.

* Serve with garlic bread and a green salad. Try not to serve as much on each plate as I did, it is far too much. This pasta is very filling.

Serves 4-6

I am entering this pasta bake into this week's Presto Pasta Night, the weekly pasta roundup that has been making us drool every Friday night for the past three years.


Happy Birthday Presto Pasta! and a big congratulations to Ruth over at Once Upon A Feast, who came up with such an excellent idea for us all to enjoy.

52 comments:

  1. Way impressive that this was a meal put together from things on hand and not planned in advance. This is one of the more attractive looking pasta dishes I have seen lately too.

    For some odd reason I have a strong desire to go shoe shopping now.. hmm ;)

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  2. He he! Me too Sarah. I always have a strong desire to go shoe shopping! I think I have excellent willpower, although my husband may beg to differ :)

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  3. Darling Jacqueline, I love stuffed pasta shells, filling and a break from 'carne'.

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  4. Yes indeed Peter, I guess you read my last comment then :)

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  5. Shame about the passata - but otherwise, all mighty fine!

    And thank you for reminding me that I really must make more baked pasta dishes. I do so only very rarely. Big mistake when they're so yummy!

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  6. I am the same Spaghetti, I hardly ever make pasta bakes, but I do enjoy them when I do make them :)

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  7. I love this dish and it has been too, too, too long since I made it! Thanks for the reminder (and I think the shoe analogies are spot on!) Gorgeous photos to boot (hee hee, shoe reference!)

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  8. I'd say it take a LOT of patience to stuff all those shells! Worth it, though.

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  9. Looks very yummy! I make a dish similar to this but I've had so much trouble trying to find the big pasta shells these days. Such comforting food though when you can get your hands on the shells
    ;0)

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  10. Thanks Kirsten :)

    It was quite therapeutic actually Andrea and they were nice and big. Very easy to stuff.

    It is definitely comfort food Chele :)

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  11. oh my! they look scrumptious!

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  12. I have never tried making anything like this before - you have inspired me, it looks beautiful and I am sure it is so tasty! Hope your wee man is coming on well :) x

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  13. It looks amazing...I wonder how it would be to play with different cheese (from one cheese lover to another!)

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  14. Thank Maninas :)

    He is coming along great thanks Lucie, he currently has the hiccups, poor wee love!

    I am all in favour of trying different cheeses Mommy Gourmet, I think feta would be particularly good :)

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  15. I need to get those giant shells- looks like a delish dish.
    p.s I always drop the kids at mums whilst I'm shopping!!!!

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  16. I'm a sucker for different pasta shapes too. This meal looks very yummy!

    Maria
    x

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  17. What a fabulous dish - I love all of those ingredients and being a cheese fiend myself love the idea of both ricotta and mozzarella. It looks so colourful too.

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  18. Thanks Beth and lucky you. My mum lives an hour away and Graham's live in another country.

    Thanks Maria :)

    We have lots in common then Choclette, chocolate and cheese, I see us becoming good friends :)

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  19. I grew up eating this - but have not had it in a while. Nice job, Jacqueline.

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  20. Lucky you Joan, Macaroni was as near as I got to pasta when I was growing up. I am making up for lost time now!

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  21. I just love baked and stuffed shells. They are so versatile and easy to make vegetarian.

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  22. What a beautiful presentation. I love hearty dishes like this, filling and delicious.

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  23. I never think about buying this kind of pasta. They produces a great effect though and give a good change from regualar pasta.

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  24. I've always wanted to stuff big shells like this but never came across them at the right time - this looks scrumptious - I'd go for lots of cheese on mine too

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  25. Wonderful looking dish, I've been thinking about experimenting with shells a little more and with the way yours came out I'm in. Thanks for the sauce recipe as well.

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  26. I too love giant pasta shells. They're just so cute (not to mention so much easier to stuff than manicotti or canelloni). thanks for sharing one of my all time favorite baked pastas with Presto Pasta Night. I even have all the ingredients on hand.

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  27. They are Val and I think I will be trying out other fillings and sauces.

    Thanks Pam :)

    It was a lovely change Virginie, although I love all pasta to be fair :)

    You are like me on the cheese front Johanna :)

    Hi TB, the sauce is a good one, really flavourful. It is my standard tomato sauce, I usually put a fresh chilli in too and lots of fresh basil.

    Glad you like it Ruth. Congratulations again on your event's third birthday :)

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  28. Ohhh, wow, I'm swooning dreamily... :-) (I love to pick up random spontaneous items at the grocery too! :-)

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  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  30. this looks completely delish - and very impressive for a throw-together from your head :)

    I suspect the large shells would work well for anything you might want to put into a ravioli, for a fancier looking dish (as long as the tomato sauce covered the filling to stop it drying out).

    A little sauted onion into the passata can work miracles btw, along with a slug of ketchup; it takes the bitterness out. That does, however, stop it being an immediate fix...

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  31. I am loving your blog!! What an inspiration to veggie lovers every where!!!! I am a vegan, and I just started my blog in January!!!
    I seriously plan on hopping over here regularly and check out your yummy food!!!

    You are awesome!

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  32. I'm laughing because I do this all the time! I stand, staring at all the pasta shapes thinking of ways I can use them.
    You put together a great recipe for yours! Stuffed pasta shells! YUM!

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  33. They are some beautiful shells! I've enjoyed them many a time, but didn't make them myself: they sell them pre-filled at Costco in California. All you do is slap some pasta sauce on them & pop them in the oven. Yours look better. :)

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  34. I really love stuffed shells! No ricotta is too much for me. Delicious.

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  35. Just beautiful Jackie! I don't eat pasta all that often, but this cheese lover would like some right now. Lucky dinner guests!

    I owe you an email and will be in touch soon.

    Love,
    Lisa
    xoxo

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  36. Thanks Astra :)

    You are so right Claire, any ravioli filling would work well here, just like a cheats ravioli really :)

    Hi VV, nice to meet you and welcome to our little community. I know you will get a lot out of food blogging and make many good friends as we all have. I am heading over to your blog now :)

    Thanks Barbara :)

    That sounds good too Davimack, it is always good to have a quick option for long, tiring days :)

    Ricotta is lovely stuff, isn't it Joanne? I used some today on top of some brownies.

    Thanks Lisa, speak to you soon sweetie :)

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  37. A lovely pasta dish!! I so love ricotta combined with spinach: it are classical flavours but I so love them!!

    MMMMMM,...thanks!

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  38. looks so good.particularly loved the stuffing in the pasta.

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  39. Me too Sophie :)

    Thank you Supriya :)

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  40. Vivacious vegan here,
    I have the waffle recipe for you, I hope you like it!!


    Waffles
    2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    2 1/4 cups soymilk or rice
    1/4 cup canola oil
    3 tablespoons brown sugar
    Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix the soymilk, canola oil, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Pour the soymilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Cook on a waffle iron for 3 to 5 minutes, generously spraying both grills with oil before each waffle.

    Enjoy!!

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  41. looks and sounds divine! i wish it was lunch already. and yes, that someone miraculously could serve me this...:)

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  42. Mmm this looks so good! I must try it! I have that wee red cake tin too :)

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  43. Thanks for that VV, I will give the recipe a go :)

    I often feel like tha whilst looking at blogs Pia :)

    They are sweet aren't they Catherine :)

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  44. Wow, your stuffed shell look delicious...what a great and full filling meal! Nice pictures...very yummie!

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  45. Looks fabulous, just right for a nice easy dinner.

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  46. Love the look of this (and I'd add the extra cheese too!). But I find that when I stuff giant shells they split very easily...

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  47. I am so guilty of buying things and then letting them gather dust at the back of the cupboard - I also bought some large pasta shells ages back called 'Lumaconi'!

    I eventually used them in a layered pasta bake with a ragu, was gorgeous but so fiddly stuffing the shells! I still have half the pack in the cupboard and as your dish looks so tasty, I think will definately have to use them now!

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  48. This is very similar to the stuffed manicotti we make. (And the first time I had it, it was a similar circumstance to yours. I was at a friend's house and as dinner approached, she went into her fridge and started pulling out various containers, saying, "this will work....") As we dined, my toes never uncurled and I scrawled the recipe onto a piece of looseleaf. (We put some fresh marjoram into our stuffing whenever we have it. It's a great addition.)

    I really like the idea of using shells rather than manicotti. They're so pretty!

    Beautiful beautiful looking pasta!

    -Elizabeth

    P.S. I must say that your dish doesn't look even remotely spoiled!

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  49. Hello! Just stumbled across your blog via another veggie blog!

    This looks so good, I'm definitely going to give this a try, although as a bit of a sweetcorn fiend I might try adding some sweetcorn (and maybe peppers?!).

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  50. Just thought I'd let you know that my mother and I tried out this recipe (albeit with emmental instead of ricotta cheese which we were unable to find). Guess what, the entire family loved it!Thanks for sharing this recipe. Love, Lucinda.

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    Replies
    1. That is brilliant!!! I am so glad you enjoyed it Lucinda and using emmental was inspired, bet it tasted great. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, It's so nice to hear when people are trying my recipes and enjoying them. Makes it all worth it.

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I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x

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