Sunday, 22 September 2019

Baked Pasta Shells Filled with Mushrooms and Ham

When I need a little comfort, I make pasta and bake it. Nothing beats bubbly pasta bake piping hot straight out of the oven with its crunchy top and molten middle. No matter the reason you may need comforting, whether it be because you miss someone you love, jammed your finger in a drawer at work and are now sporting a purple fingernail, you're angry at the government or have run out of milk for your morning coffee. I truly believe pasta bake helps, even just a little. 

This recipe of stuffed giant pasta shells filled with garlicky mushrooms and prosciutto covered in a bechamel sauce and baked until golden is one for the repertoire. It's from Gennaro Contaldo's new cookbook 'Gennaro's Pasta Perfecto!'. You start by chopping everything very small, which sounds a little tedious but instead of chopping nearly a kilo of mushrooms by hand, because let's remember, you are making this because you want a little warm n' fuzzy, get the food processor/Tupperware chopper thing/ grater out and use the help you have. I did and it worked perfectly. But, if chopping is your thang/therapeutic, then you go girl! Chop away!


After you've finished your're chopping/blitzing it all comes together in about four simple steps. One, cook the pasta until al dente, remember it will continue to cook a little in the oven. Two, fry your garlic, prosciutto, mushrooms, and white wine until everything is cooked through and smelling delish. Three, make your white sauce, which always sounds harder than it actually is - trust the method below and you'll do great. And four,  putting it all together and filling your pasta shells. Ok, five, topping it with more parmesan and shoving the whole thing in the oven for 20 minutes.

When it comes out, it's creamy and crunchy, piping hot, full of flavour because of the mushroom-packed filling and white sauce with its touch of nutmeg, it's a tray of comfort. If you want a vego version, you can remove the prosciutto and up your mushrooms, or even add some soaked dried porcini mushrooms to get some extra mushroom-i-ness into it. 

Make it for yourself when you need the warm and fuzzy's or make it for someone else who does. Either way, just make it because Gennaro thinks 'Pasta is love' and I agree. I think we can all do with some more love in the world.


Baked Pasta Shells Filled with Mushrooms and Ham

aka Conchiglioni Al Forno Ripieni Di Fungi e Prosciutto
Serves 4

About 30 conchiglinoi pasta shells (giant pasta shells)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
150g prosciutto, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
750g mushrooms, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
sea salt and ground black pepper

For the white sauce:
3 tablespoons (40g) butter
1/4 cup (40g) plain flour
500ml (2 cups) milk
pinch sea salt
pinch grated nutmeg
150g (2 1/4 cups) grated parmesan

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the conchiglinoi until al dente (check the instructions on your packet for cooking time). Drain the pasta, rinse under cold water and let drain upside-down on a large plate or tray, so any excess water drain off.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add the prosciutto and saute for 1 minute, then add the garlic and sweat for another minute. Stir in the mushrooms, increase the heat, add the wine and saute for 5-7 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, then stir in the parsley and let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 180C fan/ 200C / 400F.

Make the white sauce: melt the butter in a small saucepan, then remove from the heat and, with a small whisk, mix in the flour very quickly to avoid lumps. Gradually add the milk, whisking well in between each addition. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, whisking all the time, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat, season with salt and nutmeg, and stir in half of the grated parmesan.

Combine a ladleful of the white sauce with the mushroom mixture and mix well. Line the bottom of a large baking dish (about 34 x 22cm) with about half of the white sauce. Fill the pasta shells with the mushroom mixture and lay them in a dish on top of the sauce. Pour over the remaining white sauce and sprinkle with the remaining grated parmesan. Bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

2 comments:

  1. Definitely looks very comforting and I love mushroom filling.

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    Replies
    1. It is such a perfect dinner for a cold night :) very comforting!
      Thanks for stopping by x

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