About this recipe:A perfect pasta bake for people who love bechamel sauce and cheese. Allow six conchiglioni, or large pasta shells, per portion. If you don't have pasta shells, you could use cannelloni.
Deborah Lo Scalzo
48 conchiglioni rigati (large pasta shells)
3 tablespoons cream cheese
50g Robiola cheese (Osella)
150g grated Parmesan cheese
200g sweet Caciotta cheese, cubed
chopped garlic to taste
1 handful fresh basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
50g plain flour
1 pinch ground nutmeg
salt to taste
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Cook the pasta shells for about 10 minutes in boiling salted water, or until just al dente, and drain them well.
Prepare the bechamel sauce: In a saucepan, melt the butter, then add the flour and stir, cooking for a few minutes till golden. Pour in the milk and stir constantly until you have no lumps (this is easiest using a whisk). Bring the sauce to a slow boil, add the nutmeg and salt and then take off the heat to cool.
When the bechamel sauce has cooled, add the cream cheese, Robiola, Parmesan and Caciotta cheeses. Mix everything well until you get a creamy mixture.
Simmer the passata with the garlic and basil over medium heat and add a generous drizzle of olive oil at the end.
Fill one pasta shell at a time with the cooled bechamel mixture. Place in a greased baking dish, adding a spoonful of tomato sauce on top of each shell.
Bake in the oven at 180 C / Gas 4 for 30 minutes. Serve the baked shells hot.
Some of the cheeses in this recipe may be difficult to find. This recipe is versatile, however, and you can adjust according to what you can find:
Osella Robiola cheese is a fresh, soft cheese. If unavailable, try equal parts ricotta and mascarpone, or a fresh soft goat's cheese.
Caciotta represents a variety of rustic and mild Italian cheeses that can be made with both sheep's milk and cow's milk, or a combination. In a pinch you could try using Provolone, or another semi-firm cheese.