- 250g large pasta shells or conchiglioni
- 200g mascarpone
- 2 x 125g balls mozzarella, drained and finely chopped
- large bunch basil, roughly chopped, plus a few whole leaves to serve
Most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking but also very prevalent in Asian food, the…
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- parmesan, to serve
Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…
For the bolognese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…
- 1 onion, finely diced
Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…
- 1 celery stick, finely diced
- 1 carrot, finely diced
The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…
- 400g beef mince
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250ml red wine
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…
- pinch of sugar
Honey and syrups made from concentrated fruit juice were the earliest known sweeteners. Today,…
- 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
True Balsamic vinegar is an artisan product from Modena, in Emilia Romagna, Italy, and is made…
To make the bolognese, heat the oil in a wide ovenproof pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion, celery and carrot with some seasoning for 20 mins until soft and lightly golden. Tip in the beef mince, turn up the heat and fry, stirring regularly, for another 10 mins until the mince browns. Add the garlic, fry for a minute, then pour in the wine and bubble for a few mins more, scraping the pan to release any bits. Stir through the purée, bay leaves and tomatoes, with a canful of water. Simmer for 1½ hrs, covered for the first hour, then remove the lid and bubble until the tomatoes have broken down. Season with salt, pepper, the sugar and balsamic vinegar.
Tip the pasta shells into a large heatproof bowl with a pinch of salt, and pour over a kettle of boiled water. Cover and leave to soften for 15-20 mins – they need to retain some firmness so you can fill them.
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 4 and drain the pasta. Use a fork to mash the mascarpone with the mozzarella, chopped basil, garlic and some black pepper in a bowl.
The bolognese should be a little wetter than you’d like as the pasta shells will absorb some of the liquid as it bakes. Remove from the heat, giving it a final stir. Using a teaspoon, fill the pasta shells with some of the mascarpone mixture, pressing the mix in with your index finger. Nestle the shells into the sauce, filled-side up. Bake for 20-30 mins until the top is golden and bubbling, and the pasta is tender. Grate over some parmesan and finish with a few basil leaves.
Make it veggieSwap mince for diced mixed mushrooms and a can of cooked green lentils, and simmer for an hour before assembling. Use vegetarian cheeses, too.