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Next Level Stuffed Pasta Shells

These Pasta Shells are stuffed with four different cheeses, then baked in an easy and delicious tomato and basil sauce!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 804kcal
Cost: £3 / $4

Equipment

  • 9x13" Baking Dish (to bake)
  • Large Pan or Pot & Wooden Spoon (for sauce)
  • Large Pot & Colander (for pasta)
  • Piping Bag or Zip Lock Bag & Scissors (to pipe cheese)
  • Medium Sized Mixing Bowl & Spatula (for cheese mix)
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board

Ingredients

Cheese Stuffed Shells

  • 20 Jumbo Pasta Shells/Large Conchiglioni (approx 7oz/200g)
  • 7oz / 200g Ricotta
  • 7oz / 200g Mascarpone
  • 1 cup / 100g Mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 1/4 cups / 100g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup / 50g Pine Nuts, lightly crushed (see notes)
  • 1 large Egg, beaten
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
  • Oil Spray

Tomato Basil Sauce

  • 4 cups / 1 litre/kg Tomato Passata (pureed/strained tomatoes in US)
  • 1 small bunch of Fresh Basil, finely diced (approx 1oz/30g)
  • 1 medium Onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, finely diced/minced
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Chilli Flakes, or to taste (optional)
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
  • Olive Oil, as needed

Instructions

  • In a large pot or pan add a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add in onion and fry until it begins to soften & brown, then add in garlic and fry for 1-2mins longer. Pour in tomato passata and add basil, chilli flakes, sugar and salt & pepper. Give a good stir then reduce to a simmer for 20-25mins until it begins to thicken. This is also important to marry the flavours together.
  • Pop the pasta shells in salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Knock a couple of mins off of the packet instructions, you want them soft enough to handle, but not completely cooked through or they'll come out sloppy once baked. Drain and place to one side.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium sized mixing bowl add ricotta, mascarpone, mozzarella, 1 cup/80g parmesan (save the rest to top) and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir through beaten egg until smooth and evenly combined. Place cheese mixture in a piping bag or zip lock bag with the corner cut off.
  • Once the pasta shells are cool enough to handle, one by one squeeze the cheese mixture into the shells. Pour tomato basil sauce into a 9x13" baking dish, then add the stuffed shells to the sauce.
  • Sprinkle the shells with parmesan, then crumble over crushed pine nuts. Give the whole thing a light covering of oil spray then pop in the oven at 180C/356F for 20-30mins, or until the cheese is golden and crispy.

Video

Notes

a) Pine Nuts - These add a gorgeous crunch and a light nutty flavour. To crush them I usually use a pestle and mortar, but you could also pop in a zip lock bag and crush them with a mallet/rolling pin. You can leave these out for allergy reasons, still delicious without!
b) Can I prep this ahead of time? - You can make the sauce ahead of time, just allow to cool then tightly cover in the fridge for 3-4days. Or you can make the whole thing up until baking (leave off parmesan, pine nuts & oil). Ensure you allow the sauce to completely cool before adding the pasta though, otherwise it'll cook the pasta as it rests and it'll be too soft when you bake. Just construct and tightly cover in the fridge overnight, then add toppings and bake as instructed.
c) Serving - This will feed 4 - 5 people (4-5 shells each). They are pretty hearty, but if you're feeding 5 consider a little side salad and/or garlic bread!
d) Calories - based on the whole thing divided by 4 people, using 1/2 tbsp olive oil to fry.

Nutrition

Calories: 804kcal | Carbohydrates: 61.66g | Protein: 34.18g | Fat: 49.04g | Saturated Fat: 23.212g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6.279g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14.725g | Trans Fat: 0.275g | Cholesterol: 274mg | Sodium: 1302mg | Potassium: 961mg | Fiber: 11.1g | Sugar: 10.62g | Vitamin A: 2729IU | Vitamin C: 33.9mg | Calcium: 660mg | Iron: 4.44mg