Conchiglie Bake

Conchiglie Bake2My weekday cooking is all about ease. Though you may be inclined to think that working from home would make meal preparation a little easier, I dare say the opposite is true — at least in my case. Luckily, there are meals which make life a whole lot easier.
Let me be very honest here. Sometimes (OK, most of the time) I have to peel myself away from my screen at around 7PM in order to get dinner on the table. You could certainly say that I’m a little bit of a workaholic. On the bright side, I do know what we’ll be eating almost every night. On Sundays, I plan my meals for most of the week, make a list of what I need and get my shopping all in one go. I usually leave the weekends open, mainly because Saturday night is date night for hubby and I, and because sometimes he likes to cook on Sunday evening (which I never object to — he’s a fantastic cook).
My meal planning for the week always includes three to four vegetarian meals, and I also do a low carb meal here and there (we have become huge fans of cauliflower rice, in fact I should write a post about that soon).
When it comes to meat-free cooking, I usually turn to pulses or pastas for inspiration. The following pasta casserole has recently become a favorite at our house. Though filling the shells may seem fiddly, it really isn’t. It takes me about five minutes to put the entire meal together. And while it bakes, I have time to pour a glass of wine and have a chat with hubby about our day!
PS: This is the type of meal that makes me believe anyone can cook. That’s how easy it is.

Conchiglie Bake
Serves 3-4

  • 400g large conchiglie shells
  • 1 small jar of spinach (330g), well drained
  • 250g ricotta
  • 135g soft garlic flavored goat’s cheese (or use plain goat’s cheese and add fresh garlic)
  • salt and freshly-grated pepper
  • 350g pasta sauce of your choice (I usually use oregano or basil)
  • freshly-grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 tbsps dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 100g  crème fraîche

Preheat oven to 200C and grease a round casserole dish of approx. 26 cm. Cook the pasta for about five minutes, drain and rinse with cold water. The pasta will be slightly undercooked, and yes, you should never rinse pasta but in this case it’s either that or burn your hands. Waiting for it to cool is not an option as I noticed that it becomes very sticky and starchy, so just for this time, OK? Drain the spinach really well. I do this with a fine colander and use the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much water as possible. In a large bowl, mix the drained spinach, ricotta and goat’s cheese. Season well with salt and pepper. Spread two tablespoons of the pasta sauce over the bottom of the greased casserole. Fill the shells with the spinach cream and start to layer them into the dish. Pour the rest of the sauce over the shells. Sprinkle with Parmesan, oregano and basil and dot with  crème fraîche. Finish with an extra grating of pepper. Bake the dish for 20-25 minutes until bubbling. Serve with a green salad.

 

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