Recipe – Ricotta & Chive Pasta Shells in Taleggio Sauce

Ricotta-filled Pasta Shells in Taleggio Sauce
My cooking’s often inspired by what happens to be on hand, like some delicious Vannella ricotta leftover from a cooking class (thanks Giovanni) and a huge bunch of chives from a herb patch gone berserk … that’s how this dish came about. Giant pasta shells, called conchiglioni, are simple to fill and look impressive; they’re also perfect with the filling and sauce from my spinach and ricotta cannelloni, which is a little lighter than this version. This dish needs a full-bodied wine with enough zest to cut through the rich sauce, like Yangarra Blanc, a zippy blend of grenache blanc, clairette, roussanne, picpoul and bourboulenc.

Serves 6 as an entrée

Ingredients
  • 500g large pasta shells (see below)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 600g ricotta
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 bunches chives, finely sliced
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated 

Taleggio Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 500ml single cream
  • 200g Taleggio
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste 
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Cook pasta in plenty of well-salted boiling water until just al dente. Drain well, toss gently with oil and spread out on a tray to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, make Taleggio Sauce: heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add onion and cook, covered, for about 6 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add cream and boil for a couple of minutes until slightly thickened. Reduce heat, add Taleggio and nutmeg and stir until cheese melts. Set aside.
  4. Combine ricotta, egg, chives and lemon zest.
  5. Pour Taleggio Sauce into a large baking dish.
  6. Fill shells with ricotta mixture, gently squeezing them back into shape, and arrange them in the baking dish in a single layer.
  7. Bake for about 35 minutes, until just starting to brown.
  8. Serve immediately. 

Here’s all you need to know about cooking pasta perfectly (scroll down to Q&A).
Note: You won’t need all of the pasta shells for this recipe, but some always break so it’s best to cook them all. You can turn the leftovers into a delicious mac’n’cheese (using chopped hen’s eggs instead of quail eggs if you like, and with or without the truffles).
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