Friday, August 10, 2012

An Italian Evening

The Ingredients
Setting the scene
The other day I was in the mood for something nice, relaxed and delicious. Thinking about my larder and fridge (I had pasta shells & ricotta at home), I decided that it is time for a nice Italian evening.

During my lunch break (I work in Ballincollig) I went to Pane E Vino for some proper buffalo mozzarella (didn't have time to head to the English Market to get the Toonbridge Mozzarella) and some nice wine. I had decided to make stuffed pasta shells with ricotta & pesto baked with a topping of mozzarella.

The girl in Pane E Vino is lovely and we agreed on a Primitivo and I took also a bottle of Passata (thought that saves time on making the pasta sauce).

So, after arriving home, I got cracking -cooking the pasta shells, mixing the ricotta with the pesto, opening the bottle to let it breathe, setting the table, popping in the Italian Collection CD (compiled that one a few years back for an Italian themed dinner party) and lit the candles..... Ignore the window with the rain lashing and you could think you were in Italy in an old farmhouse....

You will need:

Ricotta Mix
1/2 box of pasta shells
2 tubs of ricotta cheese
1 tub of pesto (I had one bought in Aldi)
handful of pinenuts
1 onion
3 garlic gloves
1 bottle of passata (or make your own tomato sauce)
Buffalo Mozzarella
fresh basil

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. When boiling, drop the pasta shells in and reduce the heat a bit to avoid the water boiling over.

In the meantime, dry-roast the pinenuts in a frying pan until slightly browned. Remove. Add some olive oil into the frying pan and add chopped onions and saute for a few minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and fry so that the 'rawness' is gone from the garlic. Set aside.

Stuffed Pasta Shells
Drain the ricotta and stir in the pesto. It depends on your taste if you use the whole tub of pesto. Add the pinenuts and half of the onion-garlic mixture. Set aside.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and leave to cool enough to be able to handle the pasta with your hands.

Pour the passata into a pan and bring to a boil. Add salt & pepper and add the rest of the onion-garlic mixture. Add some of the fresh basil and taste. Add seasoning if needed. Spoon enough sauce into an oven-proof dish to cover the bottom of the dish.

Spoon the ricotta mixture into the shells. Place all the shells in the oven-proof dish so that they are upright. Spoon remaining sauce over the pasta and top with the mozzarella and bake until piping hot and the cheese started to melt on top.

Buon Appetito

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