Giant Pasta Shells stuffed with ricotta and spinach (Conchiglioni Ripieni)

Conchiglioni ripieni is a pasta dish I like to make for special occasions or weekends, the combination of spinach and ricotta with pasta has always been a favourite of mine, This recipe fits into the category of oven baked pasta dishes such as Canneloni and or Lasagna which can be prepared in advance and refrigerated; then cooked in the oven before eating;


500 gr Giant Pasta Shells (Conchiglioni)

100 gr grated Parmesan

For the filling;

  • 400 gr Spinach (you can use baby spinach leaves or frozen for this)
  • 500 gr of Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 100 gr grated Parmesan
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the Bechamel Sauce;

  • 500 ml Milk
  • 50 gr Butter
  • 50 gr Plain Flour
  • a pinch of Nutmeg
  • a pinch of Salt

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 Small onion
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of pepper
  • 1 cup of peas (fresh or frozen defrosted)
  • 800 gr Italian Tomato puree (passata)


5 Litre Stock Pot to cook the pasta;

1 Colander to drain the Spinach and Pasta;

2 Litre Saucepan to prepare the Bechamel Sauce;

30 x 40cm Baking Tray to bake the pasta shells;

Mixing bowl


To Prepare the Spinach;

Wash the Spinach and drain, then add the spinach to a stock pot and place over medium heat with the lid on; this cooking process will allow the spinach to cook in the steam of its own juices, it should only take around 5-10 minutes until the spinach is cooked and tender cooking time is dependent on if you are using baby spinach or mature spinach; drain the spinach and allow to cool; if you are using frozen spinach simply defrost the spinach and chop finely;

To Make the sauce;

Finely chop the garlic and onion

Coat the bottom of a casserole pot with Extra Virgin Oil

Add the chopped garlic, onion and oregano to the casserole pot

fry the the ingredients for a few minutes on medium heat

add a cup of fresh or defrosted peas and stir

add the tomato puree, bring to boil and then reduce to a slow simmer;

Place the lid on the pot using a wooden spoon to keep the lid slightly open to allow some steam to escape;

Cook for around 20 minutes;

To Make the Ricotta and Spinach filling;

Make the Ricotta and Spinach mixture and refrigerate

Add the Ricotta to a large mixing bowl

Add the chopped Spinach

Add the egg, grated parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg

Mix the ingredients together until well combined, now put in the fridge;

Cook the pasta as per directions on the packet, drain and rinse under cold water to cool and set aside;

To make the Bechamel Sauce;

Add the butter to a small saucepan (2 Liters) over low heat and allow to melt;

Add the flour to the saucepan and combine with the butter until smooth;

Add the milk to the butter and flour mixture stiring vigorously to combine the ingredients;

Whilst the milk is heating, add a pinch of salt; and a pinch of nutmeg;

continue to stir the bechamel sauce; as the milk heats it will thicken; continue stiring well to achieve a smooth consistency; you can use a wire whisk to mix the sauce for a smoother finish; do not allow the sauce to boil;

Once the bechamel sauce has thickened; set aside with the lid on the saucepan so that it does not form a skin on top;

To prepare the baking tray;

Lighlty coat the bottom of the baking tray with some tomato sauce; and spread with a spoon.

To prepare the pasta shells;

take a pasta shell one at a time and gently open each shell with your hand before spooning in mixture. Fill the pasta shells with a table spoon of the Ricotta mix, adding it to the baking tray as you complete them, place the filled shells in rows, you can pack them in tight.

Once the tray is full, using a large kitchen spoon or ladle fill the gaps between the rows of pasta shells with tomato sauce; then repeat with the bechamel sauce; last of all add a sprinkling of grated parmesan over the pasta;

Cooking;  Pre – Heat your oven to 180 Celsius;

Cover with the finished tray of pasta shells with foil, and place in a Pre Heated Oven for 50 Minutes;

Remove the foil and cook for a further 10-15 minutes; til the bechamel turns a golden brown colour, keep a close eye on the pasta shells to prevent them from burning;


Serve with grated Parmesan and a glass of your favourite Red wine;




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