These stuffed pasta shells are the ultimate comfort food. Giant pasta shells filled with creamy mix of cheese, basil and garlic, baked in hearty and delicious vegetarian bolognese.
Stuffed pasta shells with bolognese bake
Nothing says comfort food as well as pasta, in my opinion. It's not only easy and quick to prepare, it's also budget- friendly and utterly delicious! This recipe for stuffed pasta shells in bolognese sauce is full of flavour and perfect to share with your loved ones!
Pasta bake- the ultimate comfort food!
As each day gets colder and darker, I'm almost in a full hibernation mode. So naturally, all what I'm craving at the moment are hearty and satisfying, hot meals. Pasta is without a doubt, one of my favourite, cozy meals, especially at this time of the year (but let's just put the record straight, I do eat pasta all year around!).
Options when making this pasta bake
You don't need any complicated or expensive ingredients to make this delicious meal. Pasta shells are stuffed with mixture of mozzarella and mascarpone cheeses, plus some fresh basil and garlic. They are nested in a veggie version of classic bolognese sauce and baked in the oven.
If you like, you can use traditional mince meat to make your bolognese. If you do not have an access to Quorn, but still want to make this dish meat-free, simply swap mince for diced mixed mushrooms and a can of cooked green lentils and simmer for an hour before assembling. You can also swap the cheeses for the vegetarian options.
How to make stuffed pasta shells bake
The process of making this dish is very simple, and consists of two parts. Firstly, you will make bolognese (whichever option you prefer) and prepare the pasta shells.
First, make your favourite version of bolognese
Start with preparing your bolognese. Use wide, ovenproof dish and fry your soffritto (mix of chopped onion, carrot and celery) until soft. Then add your mince/ Quorn or mushrooms & lentils mix and fry for about 5-8 minutes.
Add red wine or vegetable stock and the rest of the ingredients and simmer for an hour.
Prepare giant pasta shells
Tip pasta shells into a large, heatproof bowl and pour over a kettle of boiled water. Cover and leave them to soften for about 15 minutes. They need to retain some of the firmness in order for you to fill them up.
Heat the oven and drain the pasta. In a small bowl, mash together the cheeses, chopped basil and garlic. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the bolognese from the heat. It may look a bit more wetter than you'd like, but don't worry! Pasta shells will absorb that liquid once in the oven. Use a teaspoon to fill the pasta shells with cheese mixture, pressing it gently with your index finger. Nestle the shells into the sauce, filled side up and bake for about 20 minutes untilthe top is golden and bubbling.
You can grate some parmesan on top of the finished dish if you desire (or vegetarian alternative).
If you're enjoyed this pasta bake, you may also enjoy these other pasta recipes from the blog:
- Bucatini Pasta with roasted tomatoes and basil
- Pesto Pasta with cherry tomatoes
- Lemon Pappardelle with basil and kale pesto
Can I freeze this dish?
You can prepare your bolognese in advance. Cook it as normal, then allow it to cool completely and transfer into airtight container. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. When you are ready to use it, simply take it out of the freezer and place it in your fridge to defrost overnight.
I hope you will enjoy this recipe, and as always, feel free to leave me a comment and a rating if you make it!
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Stay warm and talk soon!
Stuffed pasta shells bake
- wide ovenproof pan
- 250 g large pasta shells
- 200 g mascarpone
- 250 g balls mozzarella drained and finely chopped
- 1 large bunch of fresh basil roughly chopped, plus few leaves to serve
- 3 medium garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tablespoon parmesan (optional)
For the bolognese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely sliced
- 1 medium celery stick finely diced
- 1 large carrot finely diced
- 400 g Quorn mince see notes for options
- 2 medium garlic cloves crushed
- 250 ml red wine or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 3 small bay leaves
- 800 g cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 small pinch of sugar
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- To make bolognese, heat the oil in a wide, ovenproof pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion, celery and carrot with some seasoning for 20 minutes until soft.
- Add Quorn (or mince, or mushrooms and lentils mix) and fry stirring regularly for 5- 8 minutes. Add garlic, wine or vegetable stock, tomato puree, bay leaves and canned tomatoes with a canful of water. Simmer for an hour, until tomatoes have broken down. Season with salt, pepper, sugar and balsamic vinegar.
- Tip the pasta shells into a large, heatproof bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pour over a kettle of boiled water. Cover and leave to soften for 15 minutes. The shells need to retain some of their firmness so you can fill them up.
- Heat the oven to 200C /180C fan and drain the pasta. In a medium bowl, mash together the cheeses, chopped basil, garlic and a pinch of black pepper. Bolognese should be ready now, remove it from the heat. Don't worry if it looks a bit wetter than you'd like. The pasta shells will absorb the liquid as they bake.
- Using a teaspoon, fill the pasta shells with cheese mixture, pressing it gently with your index finger. Nestle the shells into the sauce, filled side up. Bake for 20- 30 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling and the pasta is tender. Grate some parmesan over the finished dish and add some basil leaves on top. Enjoy!
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
Stuffed pasta shells are so delicious! Great photos, Anna. 🙂
Thanks so much Ela, that's so lovely of you to say! Hugs and kisses! 🙂
What a beautiful dish!! I love stuffed shells but never actually made them because I had this idea that it's hard to do. But these instructions seem super straight forward - I want to try it now! Thanks
Hello Aline! They're super easy to prepare, and once you've tried, you would make them all the time! I'm glad to hear that you have found my instructions easy to follow!
This not just look delicious but I can say it tastes great too. My children will love this. I will include in my thanksgiving menu.
Thanks so much Sophie, I'm so happy to hear that you will be trying this recipe during the upcoming holiday season! Hope your family will like it!
Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
Is it crazy that I have never tried stuffed pasta shells before??? I think I am missing out! This looks drool worthy
nope, not crazy at all! I'm relatively new to them too! 😉 But you are definitely missing out! Once you've tried it, it will become a regular dish on your menu!
What a easy and delicious dish!! I cooked this for my family today . I loved the richness of the mascarpone paired with the other cheeses and fresh herbs in the filling of the shells. This is a new family favorite, thanks for a great recipe !!
Hi Debbie, thanks so much for your comment, I'm so happy to hear that and your family enjoyed this recipe! It's definitely a favourite in our house too!
Any kind of baked pasta dish is my favourite. I love the simplicity of these, but such good flavours!
Thank you Jacqui, I'm with you on this one, pasta is my favourite too, and I will happily eat it every day!
I'm a sucker for all baked pasta, and these shells are so fun! We all especially loved the bolognese bake, too. So filling, so comforting, will be making again!
Same, pasta is my weak spot! 😉 I'm so happy to hear that you've enjoyed it Candice, thanks so much!
I love stuffed shells but never made it before. Your recipe looks like it's quite easy to make and sooooo tasty! Will save the recipe to make it next week!
Hi Veronika, glad you like it and I really hope you will try making it. It's a very easy dish that is one of the favourites in our house!
These stuffed pasta shells are so delicious looking dish! and I am absolutely sure how lovely the flavours will be. I love everything about this dish.
P.S. Love that close up shot of shell pasta you posted above. That light, texture, colour is awesome. <3
Hi Farrukh, thanks so much for stopping by and for your lovely comment! And yes, I love using my macro lens for the close ups, it always captures the details so nicely!
Sounds like this is going to be one of my favorite dish. I love everything in it. The cheesy filling and the bolognese bake too. This is cute and creative too.
thanks Veena! Pasta is always my favourite and go-to meal, you just can't go wrong wit it, right? x
These stuffed pasta shells are super delicious! That cheesy filling was a huge hit with our friends, and the sauce was so flavorful. Thanks for sharing!
aww that's so great to hear, thanks so much Amanda! I'm over the moon that you guys liked it so much!
That looks awesome! Stuffed shells are one of my favorite things to make. I love the presentation here, too.
Thanks so much Ben, I'm so glad to hear that you like this dish! It's always a crowd pleaser, and perfect for sharing with family!