The folks on my father’s side of the family are Sicilian. I haven’t visited Sicily yet, but I’ve always loved Sicilian ingredients, and I was certainly drawn to this cookbook, by Ben Tish, published in 2021.
From the author: “As with many Sicilian recipes these stuffed pasta shells are born from need and ingenuity, making the best use of leftovers – pasta in this case. The resulting dish has become something much more than the sum of its parts and is a real showstopper. Conchiglioni is the most popular stuffing pasta in Sicily…”
As a lover of baked pasta dishes, Baked Conchiglioni with Pumpkin and Rosemary popped out at me.
From Chef Tish: “Although there are several elements to this recipe it’s easy to prepare. I’ve taken it up a notch with the addition of marscarpone in the sauce and an indulgent rosemary and lemon spiked brown butter to finish.”
I had never before experienced the pasta called conchiglioni. Fabulously large pasta, meant for filling.
Baked Conchiglioni with Pumpkin and Rosemary
About 1 kg dense-fleshed pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm dice
A handful of baby spinach, chopped
400g dried large conchiglioni
700ml full-fat milk
80g fontina cheese, finely grated
4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Spread the pumpkin dice on a roasting tray, season well, and drizzle with oil. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender and has started to brown.
Remove from the oven and crush with the back of a wooden spoon or a fork, then stir in the chopped baby spinach to wilt in the residual heat. Reserve. Leave oven on.
While the pumpkin is cooking, partly cook the pasta in boiled salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water to stop any further cooking. Drain again.
Make the bechamel by melting 125g of butter in a saucepan and stirring in the flour. Turn up the heat and cook until this roux bubbles and turns a sandy color. Now gradually whisk in the milk, still on the heat, and continue to whisk until the milk is fully incorporated and the sauce is smooth and thick but pourable.
Stir in the mascarpone and half the fontina and season to taste. Spoon the bechamel into a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
Divide the pumpkin mix among the pasta shells and push it in – it’s easiest to use your finger. You should over-stuff them so you can see plenty of filling.
Press the pasta shells into the bechamel in rows. Drizzle with more oil, then bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining fontina. Place back in the oven and bake until the shells are fully coked and the top is golden brown.
While the pasta is baking, heat the remaining butter in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it turns a nut brown or “noisette.” Add the rosemary leaves, lemon juice and seasoning.
Remove the pasta bake from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before the drizzling on the brown rosemary butter.
It’s fabulous with a green salad, or just about any green vegetable.
I served the baked pasta as is. It’s so decadent I just wanted it by itself. Delicious.
And the rosemary butter was fantastic! I can’t say the same for the lemon element. It was just weird, and almost ruined this luscious baked pasta. However, I’m not sold on lemon/citrus as much as many people.
I am a huge fan of butternut/pumpkin. This looks like a perfectly comforting and delicious meal to share with friends and family.
Yes – it’s not really pretty, but the deliciousness makes you forget that it looks like a casserole!
What an unusual but delightful dish Mimi! I’ve never seen this type of pasta before and I’m sure I’d have to order it online. The technique of putting the bechamel on the bottom of the pan and nestling the pasta is is really fun! Thanks for sharing this!
Yes, I liked that too. Really unique and terribly delicious!
I use this pasta to make ‘stuffed shells’ quite often. This dish looks and sounds delicious. I will have to give it a try.
See what you think about the lemon at the end. It did nothing for me.
I’m so jealous of your collection of cookbooks. You are always making the most interesting and flavorful dishes. And of course this one looks amazing as well. I’ve never even heard of conchiglioni. I must find this wonderful pasta. Thanks for sharing Mimi!
Well, I hadn’t either, which is exactly why I love cookbooks! And blogs like yours, of course!
Totally indulgent and totally yummy! No go to Sicily and show them how to do it!
Ha! I hope we get to Sicily soon…
Oh, bring it on! This sounds absolutely wonderful!
Thanks Jeff! There’s just something about baked pasta, especially when it’s sitting on top of bechamel!
Good recipe, Mimi! I recently saw these shells with a different stuffing, but this time I will see your post as a sign. Make. These. Shells. :-)
Hahahaha! Plus, they are easy to fill!
Mimi, I love conchiglioni (jumbo shells)! And this is a different stuffing from my usual, and I can’t wait to try it! Beautiful! We are big fans of citrus, but I don’t think it would add anything to this dish. It has enough going on without adding another assertive note.
I completely agree with you Jean. The lemon didn’t work, and otherwise it’s truly a fabulous dish! I’m glad I discovered these jumbo shells!
Ive been craving cozy and comforting pasta dishes. This is like a grown-up casserole! The sounds of that butter sounds heavenly too, I”m sure your kitchen smelled wonderful!
Filled pasta shells sitting in bechamel and sprinkled with cheese is certainly a lovely grown-up casserole!!!
That looks amazing Mimi, I so love everything on that dish, creamy, cheesy, mildly sweet and savory, now I have to find that Conchiglioni or I will just make it at home
It’s really good, warming, and satisfying. But I really love baked pasta dishes. It’s the closest I come to a casserole!!!
Love all these flavours, Mimi. This is truly a comforting dish.
It was a delight. Definitely decadent!
I’m not a pasta eater, but this does look very tasty and filling!
Tasty and filling! Yes indeed!
Looks absolutely amazing!
Thank you! It was definitely wonderful!!!
Laura’s family traces back to Sicily as well. We haven’t visited yet, but it is on our list! I do love stuffed pasta, and the flavors here sound fantastic…the ultimate comfort food!
With all of that bechamel, it’s really comforting! Can’t wait to get to Sicily…
Oh my… I’ve only just had breakfast, but if you put these conchiglioni before me now, I would devour them :-)
Yes. I completely understand!
I’ve never seen conchiglioni before, but it sure looks easy to use. I tried stuffing manicotti once and they kept ripping. And this recipe looks wonderful, although I’d leave off the brown butter sauce, simply because I don’t like butter.
Yes, very easy. Just use a spoon – no piping!
No one would even miss the meat Mimi, these look wonderful. It’s definitely a dish I would serve to company (otherwise I suspect I would eat the entire dish myself). This is a ‘saver’. Thank you.
I’m not sure it needs the brown butter topping, I might mix a little rosemary in with the filling. And I agree, the lemon is just weird.
The lemon was definitely weird. I wanted to respect the recipe and my Sicilian heritage!!! Some Italian sausage would be good in the filling, but the pumpkin was wonderful.
Look very yummy, Mimi. Funnily enough I’ve never stuffed conchigioni with anything other than the usual ricotta or ricotta and spinach. How very boring I am… And as it happens I have an unused box of conchiglioni *and* a kabocha squash that needs cooking, so… I think I know what’s for dinner tonight!
PS: Congrats on the new look for your blog. Very nice. Reminds me I’m in desperate need of a refresh. Do tell me who you used!
I used someone local. The problem with mine is that I learned that even though WP supplies themes, they don’t bother updating them, so I gradually lost control on major things like even fonts, plus it started to not work properly. Thanks for noticing! Your blog is great!
Whoa! I need to make this! Stuffed shells, with all variety of fillings, were omnipresent in my aunt’s in-laws home — they were from Sicily. But never have I had this filling. That will be remedied soon. Thanks, Mimi — for the recipe and book info (which I just ordered!).
I bookmarked a LOT of recipes in Sicilia!
I love conchiglioni and your version sounds absolutely delicious. Your new look is so up to date and modern looking, it is terrific❣️
Aw thanks. I liked the other one but it turns out WP doesn’t update themes, so they eventually don’t work. I needed something that I could control!
Oh I love the filling in these baked conchiglioni shells Mimi. Drooling here!
The whole dish was exquisite!
Years ago, I bought a gorgeous Italian ceramic jar with conchiglioni in it, I really just wanted the jar! Wish I’d had this recipe back then.
Ha! Well, you have it now!
This looks delicious! I mean, you just cannot go wrong with stuffed pasta, but your Pumpkin and Rosemary stuffing is amazing! So much flavor.
It was really wonderful. But I think I could eat just about anything sitting on a bed of bechamel!
Beautiful photos, Mimi! And I LOVE the “new look” of your site. This recipe is a casserole of delicious comfort. I love all of the warm flavors and soft textures. Wish it was going to my table for dinner tonight. (Love the cover of the cookbook too – I might have a plate that looks similar.) :-) ~Valentina
Oooh dishes like that would be gorgeous!!! And thanks. Things stopped working within WP so I had to get professional help!!!
Wow! This dish looks so delicious and sounds wonderful! :)
And for a filled pasta dish, it was very easy I’ll be making it again!
Such a wonderful pasta dish!! I’m keeping this one in mind when I’m cooking for my vegetarian daughter. She would love it!
I have one of those as well! And this would be great on the Thanksgiving table…
I’m not kidding, I could smell that browned butter! Your pictures are amazing, as usual. I have seen the pasta shells before but never as large as these you’ve used. It sounds exquisite and so, so comforting! Makes me hope for one more blast of cold weather! I’m thinking someone decided that a squeeze of lemon at the end would balance the richness, but I’m with you—that’s what salads are for! 😁
It’s such a great dish, and I honestly didn’t think about it being meatless. Very hearty and so satisfying.
Hi Mimi, baked conchiglioni are Sicilian, but bechamel, fontina, and squash are all North Italy. This looks great though. In Sicily these would be stuffed with a meat ragù or eggplant and baked in a tomato sauce. With your Sicilian roots you should really visit Sicily!
We will get there. We’re about to visit many countries in Africa that we haven’t been to. The pandemic set us back!
PS Agree the citrus is out of place.