It is probably not surprising then that different pasta shapes and sizes make me giddy with excitement. Every time my local supermarket has a sale on their artisan pasta, I go carb-crazy and stock up for the end of time...or something like that. My most recent purchase was a packet of conchiglioni (better known as giant pasta shells). With some beef mince in the freezer, a sole zucchini in the fridge and a few pantry staples, the Fabfood'n'frolicking stuffed pasta shell bake was born.
Stuffed pasta shell bake
1 x 500g packet conchiglioni (giant pasta shells)
1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic
500g beef mince
1 zucchini (coarsely chopped)
2 tsp hot paprika
1 bunch basil (coarsely chopped)
a handful of mozzarella
a handful of parmesan
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 150ºC.
2. Cook pasta until very al dente (i.e. you wouldn't hesitate to send it back if it was served at a restaurant). Drain and set aside.
3. In the meantime, heat oil in a saucepan and fry onion and garlic for a couple of minutes.
4. Add beef and cook for another few minutes, followed by the zucchini.
5. Stir through the pasata and paprika and season to taste. Allow to simmer for a further 10 minutes.
6. When you're happy with the level of spice and flavour, throw in the basil and remove from heat.
7. Allow meat mixture to cool down a wee bit (a few minutes should suffice) unless you have "asbestos fingers" (that's a "mum-ism").
8. Lay pasta out in the sort of oven dish you'd use for lasagne and spoon the meat mixture into each shell....like so:
9. Top with the remaining sauce and cheese.
10. Bake for around 40 minutes. Finish under the grill for lots of nice crispy bits on top.
As always, enjoy!