I’m such a fan of giant pasta shells, (in fact any food with ‘giant’ in its name is onto a winner in our greedy household). These Pinto Bolognese Stuffed Shells freeze well, so you can make up a huge batch to have on standby for weeknight suppers, or equally they make a great centrepiece for a relaxed weekend lunch with friends, alongside a green salad, garlic dough balls and a bottle of wine.
If you can’t get hold of a tin/carton of Pinto Beans, any other bean will do – borlotti or black-eyed beans would work particularly well.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 carrot finely chopped
- 1 stick celery finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 flat mushrooms finely chopped
- 1 courgette finely chopped
- 500 g passata
- 400 g tin pinto beans or borlotti also work well here
- Handful fresh spinach chopped
- 300 g giant pasta shells Conchiglioni
- 350 g tub cheese sauce
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp vegetarian parmesan
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil, and add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook over a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the mushrooms and courgette. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the passata and beans, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta shells and cook according to packet instructions. Drain, then return to the pan and cover with cold water to stop them sticking together.
Remove the bolognese from the heat, throw in the spinach, and blitz with a hand/stick blender, (you are aiming for a mix of chunks and thick sauce, not baby food purée, so just pulse a couple of times!).
Oil a large ovenproof dish (similar to a lasagne dish), and start to fill the shells. Take each shell in one hand, squeeze to hold it open, then fill with one dessert spoon of bolognese. Place in the dish with the crease at the bottom. (You can tesselate your shells into a pretty pattern, or just throw them in - entirely up to you!).
When all the shells are stuffed and in the dish, pour the cheese sauce over the whole lot, then scatter with the breadcrumbs and vegetarian parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and bubbling underneath.
Serve with a crisp green salad.