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. Continue reading
Quick and easy does not have to mean plain and boring. Quite the reverse is true with regard to this recipe, because pasta shells are combined with salmon and spinach, as well as a touch of cream, and the result is something special, not lacking in anything, and something that looks as attractive as it tastes. A lot of similar recipes call for garlic, chilies, capers, mushrooms, and other ingredients, but this one is a lot more basic, relying on simply the salmon, spinach and cream for the flavor.
Making it is simple, and this is a dish where you can have the pasta simmering away in one pot while you are stirring the sauce in another. The sauce is made with salmon, spinach and cream. Fresh salmon is best, and you just need to chop a salmon filet into cubes, but use canned salmon if that is all you have. Fresh salmon and fresh spinach are much better than their canned or frozen equivalents, so adhere to the saying ‘fresh is best’ if you want the best flavor!
A touch of parmesan is all you need to finish the dish off. Again, it is best to use fresh parmesan instead of the pre-grated kind, and you can either grate it or slice off some parmesan curls, as you prefer. If you also want to add mushroom slices, you can sauté those in the oil for a few minutes before adding the spinach and fish, but that is your choice. If you usually throw a lot of ingredients into your pasta recipes it might be nice to make this one just as it is, and enjoy the more basic ingredient combination as a change of pace. Continue reading
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