We bought large pasta shells because I insisted that they look luxurious and would be great for a dinner party. They have been in the cupboard since the start of lockdown, their time had come. It is much easier than the images and recipe list would suggest, give it a try it is a nice treat and feels a bit like you went to an restaurant in Siena.
|Mince of choice||Rosemary 2 sprigs chopped|
|1/2 tub of ricotta||Mixed herbs|
|¼ – ½ Chorizo chopped into small cubes||1 tbs fennel seeds toasted and ground|
|1 onion chopped||1 tsp ground cumin|
|500g Pasta (If you don’t have the large use any)||Black olives roughly pulled apart|
|Sundried tomatoes- not a necessity||Black pepper and salt|
|3 cubes frozen spinach defrosted or fresh||Chilli flacks|
|Preparade Tomato sauce||Lemon zest of 1 lemon|
Fry your onion in a bit of oil, I added a pinch of salt at this point once translucent add the garlic but drop the heat. I forgot to toast my fennel so move the onion and garlic to the side and did it in the same pan; see in the image below. This happens to me a lot and I am not one to dirty and pan unnecessarily. Add the mince to brown, after about 2 minutes add the herbs; Mixed herbs, fennel, cumin and 1 sprig of rosemary. Add the defrosted spinach and half of the chopped chorizo, fry until the meat is cooked and has a nice colour. You could add more salt at this point, we jsut added a pince once I had removed the childrens portion.
Remove from the heat and add the Ricotta and lemon zest stir until it is well incorporated. I added a piece of sundried tomato while assembling but you can just add a handful of chopped pieces now and mix through. Cook the pasta as directed on the packaging, drain and cover with some olive oil. This can be done during the cooking process or after depending on when you want the dish to be ready. I cooked the filling in the afternoon and set it aside to cool and kept it in the fridge until I needed it for the children’s dinner.
Once the pasta has cooled down a little you can start assembling, but first put a layer of your tomato sauce on the bottom of the oven dish. Now start filling and I even think this could be fun for the littles ones if they were a bit older. I put the rest of the chorizo in the bowl with the cooled down mince and just spooned a little with each scoop. Then place them on the sauce in a woven like pattern so you can fit the largest quantity of shells in the dish.
Top the dish with the olives and cheese and top with the chopped Rosemary to finish. What you will get is warm, comforting Tuscan flavours that brings the Mediterranean sun right into your home. We made two dinners and two lunches for us and the sae for the Austin and Aria. This would be great served with a salad if you have anything in the house, but we were a bit low on fresh foods.