Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Ricotta stuffed Conchiglioni

It's awfully cold outside... Time for some warming comfort food. I love these baked pasta dishes! This one here is simple and still, it's something else than the usual lasagna because of the conchiglioni. I think they look cute. The tomato sauce is super - easy-peasy to make and absolutely delicious! I don't have to say anything about the ricotta filling - you guys know that I love ricotta ;-) I like to make this dish for guests because you can prepare most of it a bit in advance. Later on, you only have to put it in the oven which leaves you time to talk to your guests and enjoy an appetizer. You can also variate the ricotta filling just the way you like it. I, for instance, used dried tomatoes instead of the porcinis.

(from the lovely Once Upon A Cakestand)

about 16 conchiglioni (large pasta shells) - I usually make a bit more, of course then you need a bit more filling as well.

200g ricotta
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 rashers of streaky bacon, cut in small strips
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
a good hand full dried porcinis, soaked in hot water and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

Tomato sauce:
1 medium red onion, diced finely
1 carrot, diced finely
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
2 cans diced tomatoes
some flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese

For the tomato sauce heat some olive oil in a deep sided pan, add onion, carrot and tomato purée - mix and let sauté for a bit until it softens and caramelises. Then, add the canned tomatoes and increase heat. Season with salt and pepper and let it cook until the sauce has thickened. Add chopped parsley and remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cook the pasta shells in salted water for about 8 minutes until they are soft but still have a bite and are firm enough to be filled. Drain and allow to cool.

For the filling, place ricotta, grated parmigiano, thyme, chopped porcinis, bacon, a little salt and freshly ground pepper into a bowl and mix. Fill the pasta shells with the ricotta mixture and place in an ovenproof dish.

Spoon a little of the tomato sauce over the stuffed shells (if you don't use all of your sauce you can safe it for another pasta dish). Generously sprinkle with grated parmigiano cheese.

(I usually make the tomato sauce well in advance. I cook the pasta shells and prepare the filling. Then, I fill the cooled pasta shells with it, place them in my ovenproof dish and put that in the refridgerator. Just before baking, I spoon the tomato sauce over it.)

Bake for about 20 minutes in the middle of the oven. Add some freshly grated parmigiano cheese before serving. I usually serve this together with a salad. It serves 3-4 people.

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