Pork-Filled Conchiglie with Parsley
Stuffed pasta is one of those dishes that looks impressive and therefore people assume it must be hard to make. Actually the truth is this is a simple recipe. Instead of cooking pasta and tossing it with a sauce, which is a more common preparation, large pasta shells are stuffed with a filling and then served as they are or baked and served. Serve one or two as an appetizer, perhaps before a classic Italian recipe like veal piccata or chicken Milanesa, or else serve several as the entrée, maybe with a green salad on the side.
The pasta shells take about 10 minutes to cook, while the pork filling takes double that time, so begin that ahead, and then you can have the pasta cooked (and still hot) when the filling is done. You can either pick up a package of ground pork or else make your own by running some pork neck through a food processor. The cooking time for either of these options will be the same. You could even consider using another kind of ground meat, such as beef, veal or chicken.
We are adding onion, garlic and tomato paste to the pork, and then serving the stuffed shells with fresh parsley scattered over the top, to add a splash of color and a complementary flavor. Although you might want to take a lot of care with presentation, these cool down fast, so do not worry about it if your presentation is not perfect, if you get a drip of sauce running down one pasta shell, or some have a little more filling that others. That all adds to the rustic charm! Swap the parsley for basil if you like, because either of those is good.
- 15 large pasta shells
- 12 oz ground pork
- 2 finely chopped onions
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 4 oz tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the pork, onions and garlic for 10 minutes over a low heat.
- Cover the skillet and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil the pasta until al dente, following the directions on the package.
- Drain the pasta when it is done, taking care not to tear it.
- Season the pork mixture with salt and black pepper, and stir in the tomato paste.
- Fill the pasta shells with the pork mixture.
- Scatter the parsley on top and serve.
Large pasta shells are easy to work with because you simply cook them until done, and then fill them with your choice of filling. Perhaps you have already cooked with these, filling them with a creamy chicken mixture, some kind of seafood or even a basic tomato and vegetable sauce. In this recipe we are using ground pork, onion and garlic, to keep things simple, a little tomato paste to add flavor, and some fresh parsley as a garnish. This is a delightful dish which is ideal for a dinner party, perhaps served with a salad of mixed baby greens and your favorite vinaigrette.
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