Cheese Filled Pasta Shells With Tomato & Basil

recipe

Tomato Basil Bocconcini Pasta Bake Vegetarian

It's a dish I had in my mind but I wasn't sure how it would work out. You see I had bought baby bocconcini by mistake (although some might argue that the purchasing of cheese is never a mistake). I walked past a display of lumache giganti shells aka snail shell pasta. Lumaca is a snail and Lumache is the plural snails.

Tomato Basil Bocconcini Pasta Bake Vegetarian

I had some basil pesto and basil left over from baking a brie and decided to put it all together. This wasn't really meant to work. It was in fact just a dish that I intended to serve as a mid week dish using leftovers. But once I saw the pasta in the dish I had an inkling that this might be a goodie. They key to this is having a great tomato pasta sauce. I love adding a glug of red wine to it, it adds a bit more flavour to a pasta sauce, plus then you have wine to drink. Genius no?

Wine is of course like truth serum too and I recently learned about its powerful confessional properties on a staycation I had with some friends. There was me, Belinda, Alyson and Cheryl having dinner. Three quarters of the way through dinner the topic turned to men. Coincidentally, none of us have the same taste in men. Alyson goes for Masters of the Universe business types, Belinda loves super fit men that don't snore and I go for sweet, shy tall country boys.

Tomato Basil Bocconcini Pasta Bake Vegetarian

Cheryl took a deep breath and decided to tell us something quite unexpected . "I've got to confess something girls. I've got the hots for {insert name of a European president with a penchant for riding horses while shirtless}," she says dramatically. I mean we were talking regular guys and then she throws him in. We all stopped talking at that point. "I know I know," she said putting her hands up, he's a bad boy..." she said shaking her head. While we look at each other stunned. And a little alarmed.

See wine is great in some things but sometimes it isn't great lol.

So tell me Dear Reader, what would you do if your friend confessed a love for a meglomaniac/dictator?

Divine Cheese Filled Pasta Shells With Tomato & Basil

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • 500g/1.1lbs. bag Lumache Giganti pasta
  • 220g/7.7ozs baby Bocconcini
  • 3 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1 quantity tomato pasta sauce recipe below*
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 100g/3.5ozs. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Basil to serve
  • Olive oil to drizzle

Step 1 - Cook the pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water until al dente (you may have to do this in two lots unless you have a very large pot). Drain carefully and do not overcook as you want them to hold their shape.

Tomato Basil Bocconcini Pasta Bake Vegetarian

Step 2 - Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Spread two or three ladles of the tomato pasta sauce below on the base of a large baking dish. Drain the bocconcini and mix with the pesto. Place the shells open side up and pop a pesto covered bocconcini in each one. Snuggle them tight and then distribute the extra bocconcini if you have them among the shells.

Tomato Basil Bocconcini Pasta Bake Vegetarian

Filling the shells with pesto bocconcini

Step 3 - Scatter the halved cherry tomatoes over the pasta. Mix the rest of the tomato sauce with the cheese and spoon over the shells getting the sauce in the shells as well as on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

Tomato Basil Bocconcini Pasta Bake Vegetarian

Saucy!!

Tomato Pasta sauce

This is a wonderfully versatile sauce. I usually make double this quantity and use it for lots of dishes but you will need the quantity made below for this recipe.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • 700g/24.8ozs tomato passata
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 100g/3.5ozs. semi dried or sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons cream (optional, I didn't use it for this as I wanted the red to be as bright as possible)
  • 1 teaspoon or so of salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or so to taste

Tomato Basil Bocconcini Pasta Bake Vegetarian

Step 1 - Place all ingredients in a large pot (I empty the passata into a pot and then swish around the red wine in the mostly empty passata bottle to get every bit out, does anyone else do that?) and cover and bring to the boil. Knock back heat a little and allow to simmer without the lid for 40 minutes or until thicker.

Tomato Basil Bocconcini Pasta Bake Vegetarian