You know the drill: you go to the shops and buy something which is not one of your usuals. It has been a while though since I’ve gone on a shopping strike recently. Well not really…not a 100% because you can’t do that…but I had this packet of dried conchiglie lying around in my pantry not doing much. I got so tired of looking at it that I decided to use some of it.
There’s no denying that pasta and pizza are great for pantry clearing. They also come in handy when you’ve either forgot to do the shopping or when you’re too tired to think after a day’s work. The following is a take on an easy recipe which is very popular in Malta. Fact is that back home we love our food, baked dishes being some of our favourites. Baking with pasta or even rice is quick, practical and it’s the kind of food which you can freeze and reheat. It will also keep well for two to three days in the fridge. You can use other types of pasta if you like, but conchiglie give you bulk without having to pile up the pasta for decent thickness and presence. I like to make this in summer or when I don’t feel like faffing about with lasagne.
For this recipe, which serves up to 6-8 people (always depending on your guests’ level of hunger) you need:
- 750g conchiglie, cooked al dente & drained
For the ricotta mixture:
- 500g ricotta
- 250g fresh spinach, steamed & cooled
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
For the tomato sauce topping:
- 1 -2 onions, chopped
- 700g passata
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon curry
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- salt & pepper, to taste
For the cheese topping:
- 50g grated Red Leicester, Cheddar or any other hard cheese you like
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4/350ºF.
- In a large bowl mix the cooked pasta, steamed spinach, ricotta, salt and pepper. Steaming the spinach is ideal if you don’t want a sloppy mixture. When you are happy with the seasoning, add the beaten eggs and mix everything until well combined.
- To prepare the tomato sauce, you don’t need to cook it on the stove. Just mix well your ingredients in another bowl.
- Spread a tablespoon of olive oil on the bottom of a rectangular ceramic or glass baking dish, and also spread a thin layer of your tomato sauce. Tip in the cooked pasta and ricotta mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Then spread the tomato mixture over the pasta.
- Grate the cheese all over and bake for around 45 minutes, but keep an eye on it once in a while. You could serve this alone or with some green salad.
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