Conchiglioni is one of the most underused and unknown pastas imo and i’m not sure why. The giant shells make excellent holders for all kinds of stuffing or just a great bowl to ladle up fantastic sauces. You can buy it from all major supermarket its just one you don’t really see on TV or in books which is why its probably flown under the radar. I was introduced to it in Southern Italy as its real typical dish there and I’ve never looked back since!
I’ve kept the classic Spinach and Ricotta for this recipe as I just don’t think you can beat it for a pasta stuffing. This is a really rich, wonderful dish but is surprisingly light and refreshing and also pretty simple on the prep side.
For the Sauce;
- 2 Tins Chopped Tomatoes (800g)
- 2 handfuls of Fresh Cherry Tomatoes
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves – grated
- 1 Tsp. Chilli Flakes
- 1 Shallot finely sliced
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 Tsp. Sherry Vinegar
- 1 Tsp. Sugar
- 1 Large Bunch Fresh Basil chopped (about 2 handfuls)
- 2 Anchovies
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
For the Filling;
- 400g of Large Conchiglioni Pasta Shells
- 1 Kilo of fresh Spinach
- 500g of Ricotta
- 100g grated Parmesan
- 1 whole Lemon – Zest & Juice
- 1 Tsp. grated Nutmeg
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- You will need a food processor!
For the Topping;
- 1 large Mozzarella ball
- 50g of grated Parmesan
Pre-Heat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Start by making the filling, so you will need a large pan that has a lid and then just put as much of the Spinach as you can fit in the pan in it with half a cup of water and then place on the heat with the lid on for a few minutes. You want the Spinach to start to wilt and when it does this it will dramatically reduce in size! As soon as it has wilted down but it still has that lovely bright green colour take it straight off the heat remove the water and add the wilted Spinach to the food processor. Continue to do this until all the Spinach has been wilted and is in the Food Processor.
Once all the Spinach is in blend until smooth and you have a lovely green paste and then pour into a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients of the filling and mix it all together. If the mixture is very thick I would recommend adding 1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil just to loosen it up a little. Season and then set aside.
Fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil – add in a pinch of salt and a drizzle of Olive Oil. Once boiling add in the Conchiglioni and cook for 7-8 minutes (you don’t want it fully cooked or it will go soggy in the oven!). Take out 1 Cup of Pasta Water and set aside, then drain the Conchiglioni and leave in a colander to cool while you make the Sauce.
Next make the Tomato Sauce, so start by heating a large pan and adding in a drizzle of Olive Oil, the chopped Shallot, grated Garlic Cloves & Chilli Flakes. Cook through on a medium heat until the Shallots soften (about 5 minutes). If at any point the Shallots are catching on the bottom of the pan or turning brown be quick to add in a splash of Water or White Wine and mix it around. Once softened add in the fresh Cherry Tomatoes and both Tins of Tomatoes (rinse out the Tins with a splash of Water or White Wine and add this to the pan). Heat the sauce through until it is gently simmering and then add in the Anchovies, Sherry Vinegar & Sugar and allow to cook for around 15-20 minutes and then take off the heat, add the chopped fresh Basil and stir through then set aside.
Get your baking dish ready – a large oven proof rectangle or circle dish is perfect for this and drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom, a spoon of the Tomato Sauce and the cup of reserved Pasta Water.
Now you want to start filling the Conchiglioni with the lovely filling! I find the easiest way to do this is using 2 Teaspoons (scooping filling up with 1 Teaspoon & then scraping it off into the Conchiglioni Shell with the other Teaspoon). As you do this place the filled Conchiglioni into the baking dish until you have used up all the filling and Conchiglioni. Then spoon over the Tomato Sauce making sure you evenly cover the Conchiglioni (it is nice to leave some of the Conchiglioni showing, so I tend to spoon the Tomato Sauce in rather than just pouring it all on top!). Finally tear up the Mozzarella and place this on top along with the remaining grated Parmesan, season with Sea Salt and Black Pepper and then bake for around 30-35 minutes in the oven until the Sauce is bubbling and the Cheese topping is golden and melted!
This dish is great served alongside a Rocket & Tomato Salad & some Fresh Crusty Bread.
- You don’t have to add the Anchovies to the Sauce – I just find they add a great flavour quickly which means you don’t have to cook the sauce for as long!
- This could all be prepped in advance, placed in the baking dish and then just baked in the oven in the evening – if you do choose to do this just make sure you cover the dish with Cling Film to stop it drying out.
- You can switch out the Parmesan for Pecorino if you prefer.
- I like to add a little Chilli Flakes – it gives a nice contrast bit of spice to the Sauce alongside the creamy Ricotta filling, but if you don’t like Chilli just leave this out.
- The reserved Pasta Water helps ensure the Conchiglioni doesn’t dry out in the oven and it also helps the sauce stick to the Pasta because of the starch in the Water.
Meet the Author
My name is Georgie and I LOVE all things food. It marks most occasions and life events in some way for me – family celebrations where a bake off will almost certainly be on the cards, travelling the world to seek out culinary sensational overloads, a night out being wined & dined or just being in my kitchen; my favourite place at home and working those creative muscles.Learn more