Pasta shells with pork ragu and parmesan cream

Jill Dupleix
Pasta shells with pork ragu and parmesan cream.
Pasta shells with pork ragu and parmesan cream. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Large, shell-shaped pasta, known as conchiglioni, often have a longer cooking time than the packet directions call for, so keep testing until they are tender but not yet floppy.


2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 onion, finely diced

50g pancetta or ham, finely diced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, finely grated

500g coarsely minced pork or Italian pork sausage meat

1 tbsp plain flour

400ml tomato passata (sugo)

2 tbsp tomato paste

½ tsp dried oregano

Sea salt and pepper

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

250g large pasta shells (conchiglioni)

150g peas, frozen

For the parmesan cream sauce

150ml thickened cream

50g grated parmesan

1 tsp grated lemon zest

Freshly grated nutmeg


Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and butter in a large pan, and cook the onion, pancetta, carrots, celery and garlic for 10 minutes. Add the minced pork and cook until browned. Scatter with flour and cook through for 2 minutes, then add tomato passata, tomato paste, oregano, sea salt, pepper, parsley and 300 millilitres of water, stirring well. Simmer gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.

Heat the oven to 180C. Cook the pasta shells in boiling salted water according to packet instructions until just tender, then scoop out and rinse under cold water. Cook the peas in the hot pasta water for 1 minute, then drain. Toss the shells in the remaining olive oil.

Spoon ragu into each shell and arrange in lightly oiled baking tray. Scatter with peas and spoon an extra ladleful of ragu over the top. Gently heat the cream, most of the parmesan, lemon zest, nutmeg, sea salt and pepper in a small pan and pour over top. Scatter with remaining parmesan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.