Stuffed pasta bake bolognese served in a casserole dish

Stuffed pasta bake bolognese

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(22 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 2 hrs


Serves 6

Combine two favourites – bolognese and stuffed pasta shells – to make the ultimate pasta bake. Serve bubbling from the oven for true comfort food

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal630
  • fat37g
  • saturates21g
  • carbs34g
  • sugars10g
  • fibre4g
  • protein30g
  • salt0.7g
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  • 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
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    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
    Balsamic vinegar

    Balsamic vinegar

    bal-sam-ick vin-ee-gah

    True Balsamic vinegar is an artisan product from Modena, in Emilia Romagna, Italy, and is made…


  1. 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.

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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Comments, questions and tips

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27th Apr, 2020
Finally got around to making this. It's been on the list for a while. Glad I did. Made a couple of substitutions. Used 250g tub of ricotta mixed with 150g of dolcelatte and left out the garlic in the cheese. Only needed about 200g of pasta which still gave a good covering on a 28cm pan (and was more shells than shown in the GF photo). Relatively easy to do with less washing up than a traditional pasta bake. Lovely will make it again.
15th Jan, 2020
Absolutely DELICIOUS! We’ve made it a couple of times now and it’s definitely a keeper. We experimented with different cheeses the second time too as my husband loves blue cheese! It also looks amazing. Highly recommended...
Jazzy Joules
6th Nov, 2019
Easy to do and a good one to freeze ahead. Delicious and enjoyed by all. I will be preparing one ahead for over Christmas.
8th Jul, 2020
Hi, did you end up making one to freeze ahead? Did you make it up completely to the filled shells in the sauce, then freeze and bake later when needed? Any other good tips you found in freezing this ... happy to hear!!!
30th Oct, 2019
Made this the other day, tasted and looked good. Trying the vegetarian alternative this week .
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13th Oct, 2019
I used ricotta rather than mascarpone and two teaspoons of creme fraiche to reduce the fat. It was delicious.
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