Ragù-stuffed pasta with spinach cream
This recipe is a delicious mix of pasta, beefy ragù and creamy spinach, with plenty of cheese. The pasta used is “paccheri” which are large tubes. When stacked together, they create a beautiful honeycomb shape, and you can stuff them with all manner of tasty treats. I first got the idea from the “Two Greedy Italians” recipe book. They make a vegetarian paccheri stuffed with passata and topped with an asparagus sauce.
Mine are filled with a ragù made with beef mince, garlic, onion, carrot and tomato. They are topped with a creamy spinach sauce, flavoured with plenty of Parmesan cheese.
I think these fillings would work really well in a lasagna as well. You could layer it like a normal lasagna, with spinach sauce instead of bechamel. I’ll try it out at some point. Any excuse to make a lasagna!
Ingredients (serves 3)
250g paccheri pasta
– 250g beef mince
– 1 onion
– 3 cloves garlic
– 2 carrots
– half a courgette
– 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
– 400ml passata
– 1 tablespoon dried oregano
– salt and pepper to taste
– 200g frozen chopped spinach
– 200ml single cream
– 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
– 50g Parmesan cheese
1. Start the ragù. Place the onion, garlic, carrot and courgette in a food processor and pulse until you have small pieces. You can also chop them all finely, but it takes longer!
2. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the vegetable pieces and rosemary and sweat for 3 minutes until starting to soften.
3. Add the mince to the pan. Cook until mince is browned. Pour in the passata, along with the oregano. Simmer, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Preheat the oven to 180⁰C.
5. Cook the paccheri in a pan of water for 10 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
6. To make the spinach sauce, add the frozen, chopped spinach to a large pan. Stir until warmed through. Add the cream, nutmeg and MOST of the Parmesan cheese. Stir through and simmer until reduced. Season to taste.
7. In an oven proof dish, spoon a layer of the spinach sauce. Stand the paccheri upright in the dish. I had used up the end of one packet and started another… at this point of assembly I realised the two packets were different sizes, so I ended up with a slightly honeycomb shape. Oh well!
8. Now for the fiddly bit – fill each paccheri tube with the ragù. I used a tablespoon and spooned it in a bit at a time. As you can see, I got a little messy at this point – it still tasted good so don’t worry! If you have extra ragù, spoon it over the top.
9. Cover with the rest of the spinach sauce, and sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan cheese.
10. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Give it a few minutes to stand after taking it out of the oven – it will make it easier to serve.
Let me know if you try it as a lasagna before I do!
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