Pasta shells cooked in a delicious tomato sauce, topped with béchamel sauce and cheddar cheese then finished under a hot grill.
Serves two people
Preparation and cooking time 30 minutes
Ingredients and method
200g dried Conchiglie – cooked to al dente as per packet instructions
150g mature cheddar cheese – grated
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 heaped dessert spoon plain flour
Approx. 500ml semi skimmed milk
Dried oregano – 1 tsp for tomato sauce, 1/3 tsp for béchamel
1 tsp dried parsley
4 round tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 stick celery
1 red bell pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp tomato puree
Black pepper for grinding
Sea salt – to taste
You need a food processor or mini chopper for the tomato sauce
To make the tomato sauce
In a large flat non stick frying pan dry fry over a medium heat, 4 tomatoes, 4 cloves garlic, 1 stick celery and 1 red bell pepper, turning occasionally until charred.
Remove from the pan and allow to cool on a chopping board. Then remove the garlic skins and the stalks/seeds from the bell pepper.
Transfer into a mini chopper along with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp brown sugar, 2 tsp tomato puree, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Blitz until a smooth sauce is formed, set aside ready to cook.
To make the béchamel sauce
Melt approx. 75g butter in a sauce pan then add 1 heaped dessert spoon of flour and stir into a paste.
Add a small volume of milk, 1/3 tsp dried oregano, 1 bay leaf, 4-5 turns of a pepper grinder and stir well until a smooth sauce is formed.
Increase heat slightly and add approx. 250ml of milk, stirring well to keep a smooth sauce (Tip: you can use a whisk or silicone spatula to help keep sauce smooth).
Keep stirring as the milk heats and the sauce thickens, once it becomes thick add another 150ml milk and keep stirring as sauce heats again. Bring the sauce to the boil, if the sauce is too thick add a little more milk, stir well and bring back to the boil then fish out the bay leaf and remove the pan from the heat – set aside ready to add to the dish.
With a béchamel you want to keep adding milk whilst heating the sauce until it no longer thickens as it reaches boiling point. I have listed the milk as 500ml, however you may need slightly less or more – cooking a béchamel is one of those things that it is difficult to list an exact quantity for.
Cooking the dish
Start by cooking the pasta to al dente as per packet instructions, then drain and set aside ready to add to the pan.
In a deep wide frying pan add the blended tomato sauce and gently heat through until it bubbles and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Add the pasta to the tomato sauce, stir well and simmer the pasta in the sauce for 2-3 minutes.
Pre heat your grill on a medium to hot setting (3/4 setting).
Give the pasta and tomato sauce another good stir then drizzle the béchamel sauce over the pasta, making sure the béchamel is distributed over the whole dish. Top with the grated mature cheddar.
Place under the hot grill and cook until the cheese melts and starts to colour, this should take 6-8 minutes depending on your grill. Once the cheese melts and colours like a pizza topping the dish is ready, remove from the grill and serve.
We had this dish with a leafy green side salad and some green beans, although it works just fine by itself – I hope you enjoy.