Baked Tomato & Cheese Conchiglioni
- 20 conchiglioni (120g)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ x 125g balls of mozzarella cheese
- 175g quality ricotta cheese (available at Italian delis)
- 40g Parmesan cheese
- 20 large fresh basil leaves
- ½ quantity simple tomato sauce (see below)
Gennaro's Simple Tomato Sauce
Tip 4 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes into a bowl, then break them up with your hands. Pour in 1 tin of cold water. Peel and finely slice 3 cloves of garlic and ½ a fresh red chilli (optional), then pick and roughly chop the leaves from 1 bunch of fresh basil. Put the garlic, chilli and 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a large pan over a high heat. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and basil leaves. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes, or until thickened to a rich, silky sauce.
For the Baked Tomato & Cheese Conchiglioni:
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Cook the conchiglioni in a large pan of boiling salted water until very al dente – it’ll continue cooking in the oven, so it’s important not to overcook it. Drain well, making sure you empty any water out of the shells, then cool.
To make the filling, finely chop 1 ball of mozzarella and place in a large bowl with the ricotta. Finely grate in half the Parmesan, use your hands to scrunch it all together, then season to taste. Take level tablespoons of the mixture and roll it into balls – you should have 20 altogether. Place each ball in a basil leaf, then put each inside a conchiglioni shell, like you see in the pictures (see below).
Reserving half a ladleful of the simple tomato sauce, spoon the rest into a 20cm x 30cm ovenproof dish. Lay the filled pasta shells on top in a single layer, then drizzle over the remaining sauce. Cover with tin foil and place in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and bubbling, removing the foil and tearing over the rest of the mozzarella for the final 15 minutes. Once ready, finely grate over the last bit of Parmesan and return to the oven for a final 2 minutes to melt before serving.