Heartwarming Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Pasta in a Mushroom Bolognese
Feeds 3 - 4
To be fair, this is probably more of a hefty winter dish than an autumn one BUT my windows are closed whilst I sleep so that can really only mean that winter is coming. This dish includes my mum's bolognese recipe (which is the epitome of home-cooking deliciousness), so I highly encourage you to tuck in and try this. If you want to just have spaghetti bolognese then just follow the recipe for the bolognese and cook up some spaghetti, because that is pretty perfect on it's own. However, if you feel #hangry because you've worked up an appetite from school, or the gym, or work, or ... your kids? (Idk if I have many parents reading this), then you should go the whole way and stuff your pasta with fluffy, creamy, cheesy ricotta.
I so graciously tested this recipe for you guys, ate nearly the whole thing JUST FOR YOU GUYS, to make sure it was delicious...
When I was in Italy, they loved to put lemon zest in some of their creamier dishes. I decided to test a small batch with some lemon zest and found it to have a pretty similar taste to some of the food I tried in Italy. Now, it's not my favourite, I prefer to go plain Jane with the ricotta, but I have friends who loved it so do it if you're feeling a little bougie!
If you want your bolognese to be more bolognese-y, keep adding the beef stock, the passata, and tomato paste until you're satisfied.
Why not class it up with some red wine? Chuck in a splash of red wine with the sauce and let it reduce.
Constantly taste to see if the dish needs more salt, more sauce, more pepper, etc. It's quite forgiving if your ratios change.
Vegetarian: Change the mince to quorn or another version of meatless mince and it'll act pretty similarly
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 mild chilli, diced
4 large garlic cloves
500 grams of minced beef (or whatever version of mince you want)
1 cup of mushrooms, chopped into small cubes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 jar of Dolmio bolognese sauce (or any basic bolognese pre-made sauce you can find), 500 - 650 grams
Half a beef stock pot
Salt and pepper to taste
2 bunches of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup parmesan
1 cup of cheddar or mozarella
Tomato puree/Passata (if you have more than 650 grams of mince)
1 - 2 tablespoons of creme fraiche (Optional)
1 cup of fresh ricotta
1 tablespoon of parmesan, grated
1/3 cup of chopped spinach, sautéd and wilted
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
15 - 20 large pasta tubes or shells (the bigger they are the less you need)
Preheat oven to 200℃ (392℉).
We're going to start with the bolognese so that it can simmer whilst you move onto your pasta and ricotta filling. First put the olive oil in a deep pan or pot on a medium-low heat. Once glistening, add the chopped onions and sauté for 6 - 9 minutes, or until softened. Slightly crush down your garlic cloves with the back of your knife and add them to the pan for 2 minutes. Add the chillis in and sauté for a further 1 minute.
Add your mince meat and pound it down with your spatula or mixing utensil. Lightly brown the mince and then add in your chopped mushrooms. Cook on a medium to low-heat for 3-5 minutes. Nows time to add your pasta sauce, your beef stock, tomato paste, salt and pepper, and passata (if needed). Mix them together and throw in half the basil on the top. Cover with a lid and let simmer whilst you make your pasta, occasionally stirring.
Start by boiling water with a large pinch of salt for your pasta. Cook your pasta until al dente then remove from the heat. Remember, save your pasta water for your sauce!
In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, wilted spinach, parmesan, and salt and pepper. Add about a tablespoon or two of the mixture to your pasta tubes or shells. You don't want to overstuff because then it tends to overpower the sauce (I actually did this and told myself to remind you guys!). Set the shells/tubes aside whilst you prepare the baking dish.
Go back to your bolognese sauce and taste it to see if it needs any additions i.e. salt and pepper. Remove the basil leaves from the sauce and throw them away. Add a half cup of the pasta water and stir in for 1 minute. Remove the sauce from the heat. If you like a creamier bolognese, spoon some of the creme fraiche in now and mix it in. Spoon half the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish. Place the pasta on the sauce and cover with the remaining sauce. If your dish is too small, you can layer it like a lasagne - sauce, pasta, sauce, pasta, sauce. Sprinkle on top your cheeses and place in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes, or until cheese is starting to get golden.
Take out of the oven, sprinkle over some basil leaves for some freshness and DIG IN! Enjoy!