Pasta Shells with Prosciutto, Ricotta, Mushrooms and Marinara Sauce

My husband and I really enjoy spend the weekends cooking together. Everything is so much fun for us, from choosing and shopping the ingredients to the preparation of the dish. We love to share all these moments. Most of the times we choose a challenge, like dishes with many preparation steps and long cooking time. But sometimes we have an early appointment, so we decided for something simpler and also quicker.

This pasta shells are very simple to prepare. They are stuffed with ricotta, parsley, mushrooms and prosciutto, covered with marinara sauce. I made the stuff while he prepared the marinara sauce, and then we stuffed the shells together. We spent a short time in the kitchen, but it was very fun. Besides, who said that a quick and easy meal could not be savory? These pasta shells are the perfect example that proves the opposite.

Pasta Shells with Prosciutto, Ricotta and Mushrooms
(adapted from here)

  • 12 jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, fat trimmed, chopped
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 15-ounce container prepared marinara sauce (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain.
Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped prosciutto and shallots and cook until shallots are translucent, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add chopped mushrooms and cook until tender and juices evaporate, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in ricotta, basil and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
 Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon mushroom mixture into each pasta shell and add marinara sauce.

Marinara Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves

In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

This recipe was featured on Foodbuzz Top 9: April 30, 2011