pasta-tomato-0320Back to some Italian food. The good old  Italian pasta. This time it is in the form of shells stuffed with ricotta mixed with mushrooms (shiitake), carrots and zucchini.

While having this baked pasta dish last Sunday I felt emotional. No kidding, I was moved. It brought back many very good memories.

pasta-bake-0301Such is the life of an emigrant: full of small things, like a familiar dish, that contributes to awakening of the usually dormant nostalgia. Four years after I left my hometown Napoli to move to the immense London, I can tell you: this homesickness is for life.

pasta-bake-7However London is treating me well. Most probably better than my home country would do, hence, I am not planning to go back to my city in the near future (unless good job opportunities come up).

I am planning to cook more Italian food, instead. Maybe even more Neapolitan cuisine. Would you like to see more recipes from my region?

pasta-tomato-2The culinary repertoire that’s accessible in this city is huge, endless and always surprising. I am pretty sure every type of cuisine from all around the world is represented in London. The variety of restaurants is impressive. In the last few years I noticed more fusion restaurants around; it is becoming necessary to stand out from the crowd and offer something new that can eventually become a trend.

I have a long list to try myself, such as a Japanese/Peruvian restaurant called “Chotto Matte”, in Soho, and a place called  “Asia de Cuba” (!)  for an “inventive Asian-inspired Cuba cuisine”. How cool.

pasta-tomato-9You see, with all these things to try and new ingredients to experiment with I completely forget how reliable, tasty and simple is the cuisine of the country where I am from. Therefore, when I finally get to cook a baked pasta dish I almost cry from happiness! Maybe by missing the chance to cook an exotic dish, my curiosity is not fulfilled. However another type of satisfaction makes me feel all content. After all, familiar recipes never fail. Don’t you agree?

pasta-bake-0339

Ricotta and Shiitake Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 250 g or 30 conchiglioni rigati (pasta shells)
  • 1 zucchini onion finely chopped
  • 4 Shiitake mushrooms chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 250 g fresh ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • nutmeg salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 x 400g canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons basil finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese finely grated

Instructions

  • To make filling: in large fry pan, add olive oil, chopped carrot, zucchini and mushrooms and stir for for 10 minutes or until soft. Remove to bowl to cool and add ricotta, nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste.
  • To make sauce: heat oil in large fry pan and cook garlic until for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Add chopped basil and remove from heat.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling and salted water (2 teaspoons of salt) for about 7 minutes, drain and let it cool down for 5-10 mins.
  • Fill each pasta shell with the ricotta mixture, then pour tomato sauce on to. Drizzle with olive oil and grate fresh Parmesan cheese over the top.
  • Bake at 180°C for about 15 minutes. Serve with some more grated Parmesan on top.

Join the Conversation

18 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I love baked pasta dishes especially with panko & nut parmesan and that dish looks mouthwatering if I can make it vegan! I used to love ricotta before I became a vegan for health/personal reasons and I love anything ricotta-based! I would love to see you cook more Italian food, preferably vegan/vegan-friendly if possible! I love how you drizzle some good olive oil on pasta because we both love olive oil on anything! What a great idea to use the shiitake mushrooms as a filling – I would love to try that version with maybe cashew ricotta! x

  2. Mmmmmm, Daniela you’ve got me drooling!! I saw this photo on your IG & just thought I had to visit your website to see the recipe. Shiitake mushrooms are my absolute favorite. YES YES YES I’d love to see more recipes from your region!

    It’s normal to feel homesick, but I think the culinary expeditions you’ll encounter in London as you’ve mentioned will help ease the pain a little. I mean, so many things to try & such interesting fusions! Please take your camera to capture what sounds to be amazing when you visit those restaurants in Soho!

    Beautiful photos as usual! 🙂 You’ve inspired me to use a tripod when taking my photos so I can get my hands in there so I tried it out yesterday. 😀

  3. Oh my girl – you are making me HUNGRY! And yes, I would definitely love to see more recipes from your region. Yes, yes, yes!!! I love love love Italian food. In fact, I’m married to one. (I mean an Italian, not Italian food!) Hahahaha! 🙂