Zucchini and ricotta stuffed pasta shells

Conchiglioni con ricotta e zucchine

The June 2011 issue of OLIVE magazine, featuring (among other stuff) simple Italian cuisine, was a godsend when planning my weekend menu. I was looking for something vegetarian, and those pasta shells were perfect for some gluten-loaded fun.

I followed the recipe almost to the t – almost because I had some shallot to go into the tomato sauce, added a bay leaf, a tiny sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, but other than that I stayed true to these directions:

Stuffed & baked ricotta shells

Serves 2
adapted from OLIVE magazine, June 2011
olive oil
2 garlic clove, crushed
1x400g tin chopped tomatoes
20 (about 200g) giant pasta shells
500 g courgettes (zucchini), topped, tailed and grated
1/2 lemon, zested
100 g ricotta
50 g parmesan, grated
(salt and pepper)

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Add half the garlic, cook for a minute then add tomatoes. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened.

2. Cook the giant shells until almost tender. You want to slightly undercook them as you’ll be baking them again later. Drain, rinse under cold water then drain completely.

3. Heat another tbsp of oil in a large frying pan, add the rest of the garlic and the courgettes. It looks like a huge amount of courgette at the start, but it really wilts down. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the courgettes have reduced and all the liquid has cooked off. Cool then stir in the ricotta and zest and half the parmesan. Season well.

4. Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Spoon the tomato sauce into the bottom of a shallow ovenproof baking dish. Stuff a spoonful of courgette mix into each shell then sit in the sauce in rows. Sprinkle over the rest of the parmesan. Bake for 20- 25 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Since I wasn’t sure my conchiglie rigati by DeCecco were the right size, I cooked about 25 of them, eyeballing they would fit into my casserole dish so-so. I ended up with 23 filled shells, and while we could have easily downed all of the dish between the two of us, we opted for a dessert instead, so I’d say the recipe makes 2-3 servings – we had one normal-sized portion left.

The combination of lemon, zucchini and ricotta is very nicely balanced by the tomato sauce. Delicious!

A keeper recipe, and worthy of being submitted to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Briciole.

The round-up of Presto Pasta Nights is now online at Briciole.

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