Thursday, April 19, 2007

Baked shell pasta with zucchini, onion, salami & fontina

This pasta has a very robust taste, and is saucy and colorful! True, to make this dish requires extra time (in stuffing and baking), but as long as you can keep your husband/children/pets (check the appropriate(s)) away from your kitchen, or perhaps follow the steps of how I did mine, the whole dish definitely takes less than an hour from start to finish.

Recipe: (yield 13 - 14 large shells, enough for 2 persons as the main course)
*adapted the recipe of conchiglioni alle zuchine from Pasta Perfetta by Father Orsini*
  • 16 large shells (in case 1 or 2 broken after cooked)
  • 1 medium zucchini julienne
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper julienne
  • a small handful diced salami
  • green peppercorns, crushed (you can use black/white peppercorns)
  • For the sauce: 2 Tbps butter, 3/4 cup (hot) milk, 1 1/2 Tbps flour, 3 ounces fontina diced, a few marjoram, some Pamigiano-Reggiano


  • Bring a big pot of water to boil while you cutting/cooking the veg. Cook the shells until al-dente, drain, set aside.
  • Pre-heat a frying pan (no oil needed), saute the salami for about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  • Use the same pan and the oil from salami to saute onion and shallot for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add zucchini, bell pepper and a dash of salt and saute for another 5 minutes or so. Set the veg aside. During this time heat up the milk in another small pot.
  • Use the same saute pan (wipe it if it's wet) to melt the butter over very low heat, add flour, keep whisking to toast the flour (roux), about 2 minutes. Pour in hot milk and whisk over low heat for 7 minutes or until thickened, stir in fontina, and after it all melts, turn the heat off, stir in the veg-salami mixture (no liquid). Salt & pepper to taste
  • Grease an baking tray/dish, pre-heat oven... the original recipe calls for 350F, but since this recipe of mine has scaled down, with such a small portion I used toaster oven. I set mine 400F.
  • Fill the mixture into each shell... I used chopsticks so the job was easy-breezy... place them in pan, you can dot a few butter (tiny) cubes if you like, and sprinkle quite a bit grated Pamigiano-Reggiano. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Remove the shells from oven, let stand and cover for 5 minutes before serving. Add fresh marjoram.

This is the post I submit to Presto Pasta Night. This event is found by Ruth over Once Upon a Feast. Please go to her blog to check out the details or the round-up of this Friday!



Anh said...

Yummy! When I see fontina I know that I will love this pasta! It may sound funny but fontina is the cheese I ate the most these days. Gattina, you rock! ;)

Unknown said...

Hee, you pic makes me feel like I want to devour the entire dish, shells, plate and all! Simply tantalizing!

Brilynn said...

I just bought some large pasta shells, I haven't decided what to stuff them with, but this looks great!

Mishmash ! said...

hmm..thats a real treat !
But I wanted more pics, not happy with one :(


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Total comfort food. Yum!

Passionate Eater said...

Not only does the ingredients sound fantastic, but I also am touched by the thoughtfulness behind your recipe. That is so kind of you to suggest cooking extra shells in case a few of them break! ;) I usually say, "If they broke, then too bad!" Great recipe Gattina, thanks for teaching us how to make baked shells!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I love fontina combined with pasta. This looks really good Gattina and as we all love our pasta, certainly a must-try on my list. Thanks for the recipe.

Katie said...

I love the flavor of salami and a little really does go along way. I still have some zucchini in the freezer from last summer.....
It looks and sounds delicious!
Are those little thyme leaves garnishing?

Anonymous said...

These are just perfect!! I looked and looked at them, to take in all the little details. I love the little herb leaves on top. Beautiful! (As always) :):)

Saffron said...'re becoming even more italian!
I apply you for the citizenship!!!;))

Gattina Cheung said...

Anh, me too! I have a wedge but didn't store it properly, got mold *heartache*

Angie, usually I don't bluff (I am a humble lady-lady you know, kekeee...), but this one, you may be one, you will find yourself not able to stop eating!

Brilynn, not sure if you take shellfish... I love the idea of seafood filling in large shell paste, you know, matchy-matchy thing.

Shn, you are so sweet! May be next post I will have more time to snap snap :D

Lydia, yes indeed! Thanks sweet!

Passionate eater, oh thanks for your compliment!
We all learn from each other :D

Meeta, this recipe is Veneto style, I like it a lot, hope you like it too!

Katie, great! that means zucchini can be freezed! I will do it!

Sher, oh you are always so sweet! This kind of rich pasta is what I truely love, but I won't eat it often, you know summer coming...

Saffron, oh darling, I can't stop laughing!!! Can I just live in Milan... those gorgeous guy boys!

aminah said...

this looks yummy...but I can't find these shells anywhere in Oslo...ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Do you have any good tips for pastry baking?

FH said...

I love the combination of Fontina and Salami.YUM!!!Looks so gorgeous,wish I could grab some:))

Patricia Scarpin said...

Baked shells are always a hit, Gattina! Yours are wonderful, I always love the combinations of flavors you choose!

Ruth Daniels said...

I love stuffed pasta shells. This filling sounds divine. Can't wait to get to Halifax and try some out.

Thanks for being such a great part of Presto Pasta Nights

Freya said...

Yum! I love big stuffed shells of pasta!

Lis said...

Ohhhh yummy!! And quite beautiful (as always!) I love stuffed shells so these are right up my alley. =)

Mandira said...

I want to eat this fontina now... this is certainly a must-try on my list. Thanks Gattina.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness - I definately need to purchase some jumbo shell pasta! What a gorgeous and savoury dish, Gattina!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Beautiful and ever so yummy! Those pasta are really mouthwatering...

Anonymous said...

This is so colorful and pretty! It looks like a perfect weeknight dinner - quick and delicious. :D I love shells, manicotti, and cannelloni because they're so versatile, you can stuff them with anything your heart desires.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Gattina!

This is the second recipe I've seen for baked pasta and I am so drooling! I love the combination that you've created.

Gattina Cheung said...

Aminah, sorry you can;t find these big shells, if I can think of other be a good substitue, will let you know :D
About pastry, I just assume you are a beginner in this item (sorry if I'm wrong). First you may better get to learn it from a good-written cookbook (esp those with very detailed introduction and instructions, but photo/recipes not too essential). Mine was Joy of Baking. I do believe most of self-taught bakers started out the same (reading). Then, keep practicing, and better do it in very cool room (or cool night or in winter), so the butter/fat in dough won't melt so soon (as beginner tends to fuss the dough for a longer time), it's easiler for you to accomplish a flaky dough. Please let me know if you have any other questions :D

Asha, I like fontina a lot, although pairing provolone with sausage/ or salami seems more common. Thanks for your kind words *hug*

Pat, Me too, I always admire how you come up with so many brillant ideas in your recipes!

Ruth, thanks for your sweet words, Please update us once you get there :D

Freya, bigger, better!

Lis, I don't make baked pasta too often, it is the forte of my mother-in-law. But for this one, I can't be humble, I beat hers *sssshhhh....*

Mandira, oh thanks for your sweet words! It takes you a bit more time, but it's worthwhile :D Enjoy!

Gilly, thank you! You will on hook, dangerous ... =)

Rosa, oh thanks sweetheart!

Amy, yes, you are so right! And their look is just a crowd-pleaser, isn't it?! Thanks for your sweet words Amy!

Ivonne, do you always make baked pasta? Please yell whenever you do... I will be holding a BIG bowl waiting by your kitchen!

Deborah Dowd said...

This looks like a version of stuffed shells even my husband would like!

David said...

Fontina has always been a favourite of mine, but America is a cheese desert, outside the metropolitan areas. My nearest source for any cheese from the block, other than the bland Amish products, is 90 miles away.

When I arrived in the US from Europe, one of the more unexpected shocks was the lack of cheese. Only plastic, pasteurized cheese-like products were available. Matters have improved slightly over the last decade, but not much.

There's now a supply of plastic-wrapped imported pasteurized cheese. American law forbids any cheese less than 60 days old to be made of unpasteurized milk. The making of pasteurized Brie was developed especially for the US import market, and disgusting rubbery stuff it is.

In those days, there was even no baker's shop. There's still no butcher, no fishmonger, etc. Just supermarkets. That's in a county with a quarter of a million people and two universities.

I enviously ogle sites such as this, from time to time, remembering dishes that I used to cook. Oh, for some fresh fish in my bouillabaisse and paella!

"husband/children/pets (check the appropriate(s))" I've never had a husband, but my two successive wives have never spent much time cooking. The second is a disaster in the kitchen. My children are long scattered, and on another continent, and my cats sit watchfully whenever I cut bread or anything else, trying to psych me out.

Not all male cooks are professional chefs, by any means.