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!
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 tbsp parmesan (optional)
For the bolognese
- 1 tbsp 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 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 small bay leaves
- 800 g cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 small pinch of sugar
- 1 tsp 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!