Thursday, October 21, 2010

'To Meat or Not To Meat '...Stuffed Seashell Pasta

To meat or not to meat.... that is the question. Why rack your brain, when you can end up pleasing all the diners at your table with their desired choice by making both versions.  It's really an uncomplicated recipe which can be prepped in advance and simply popped into the oven just before guests arrive. The ricotta filled portions are light and fluffy as are the veal and spinach stuffed seashell pasta. Simply delicious served with a rosé tomato sauce, made by adding some light cream to your basic marinara sauce.

"She sells sea shells by the seashore.
The shells she sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore..."  a classic tongue twister really refers to Mary Anning  a 19th century British paleontologist and fossil collector who would sell her finds to make a living.

1/2 pound or 36 cooked  sea shell pasta (according to package directions or 10 minutes)
ricotta filling
veal filling
2-3 cups rosé tomato sauce (marinara sauce with 15% cooking cream added)
grated Parmigiana Reggiano

Cheese Filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiana Reggiano
In a bowl whisk the egg and add the cheeses. Stir to incorporate the ingredients.

Meat/ Spinach Filling:
1 pound minced veal
2 cups (packed) baby spinach
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 carrot finely chopped
1/2 celery stock finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons Italian parsley finely chopped
1/2 small sweet onion finely chopped
1 piece (2 inch length) leek finely chopped
1 garlic clove finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiana Reggiano
1/2 cup soft mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste

Using a food processor finely mince the mozzarella cheese and transfer to a small bowl.

In a food processor mince the spinach or chop by hand and set aside.

Heat the oil  and saute the onions and leeks for two minutes. Add the garlic, carrot, celery and parsley then continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes.
                                                        Add the veal and cook through
Add the chopped spinach to meat and cook for an additional minute 
Stir in the grated cheese.


Line the bottom of a large casserole dish with about a cup of rose tomato sauce. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of water to thin out the sauce to prevent drying out while the pasta bakes in the oven.

Using a teaspoon fill each pasta shell with the meat mixture and do the same with the ricotta filling. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish as illustrated below

 Pour rose sauce and grated Parmesan cheese over the pasta shells. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350º F oven for 35 minutes.  If desired you may  garnish with chopped spinach by adding it to the unbaked pasta and allowing it to cook simultaneously.


  1. Hi Anna,
    Hmmm good! Can the fillings be used with cannelloni shells as well or is there another method of preparation strictly for each type of pasta?

  2. Anna,
    Lovely post (as always) I have a mixed family (some vegetarians, some meat-eaters) so I've gotten very comfortable with making multiple versions of a meal. These stuffed shells look splendid, and I think that anyone would be thrilled. Thank you for your continued kindness on my blog. It means so very much to me.

  3. Your blog is a wonderful discovery! Nice to know you. Skip to us, we offer you a treat from Italy:)

    We made italian dishes but we love to share it with other cultures!

    Many greetings Italian

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog :o) These shells look fantastic, love the spinach/veal filling, which sounds incredible!

  5. Great fillings for the seashells. I would take ricotta first and finish with veal!

  6. Ann, I think the the fillings are perfect for any type of pasta. Mom uses the same ricotta filling for her ravioli.

  7. Thanks Monet. I love that you can prep the dish ahead of time and please everyone without it being complicated. Your family's ordeal has touched all your blog followers. I hope that knowing you are in our thoughts, will continue to bring you some comfort.

  8. Hi Susi, thanks for dropping by, and I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe.

  9. Angie, I too couldn't resist having a few of each.

  10. Hi Orsetta, Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and the lovely comment. I'm looking forward to visiting your blog.