Giant pasta shells stuffed with a creamy, enchilada-inspired filling, and covered in homemade enchilada sauce – the perfect fusion.
If there’s one thing that will always tempt me, it’s cheesy pasta. Add some more of my favourite ingredients – black beans, sweetcorn, spicy enchilada sauce – and you’ve got a comforting dinner that won’t fail to please!
You all know how much I love fusion food. Why enjoy just one cuisine, when you can enjoy two? I really couldn’t care less if my cooking isn’t authentic – if it’s delicious, I’m all in.
These cheesy enchilada stuffed pasta shells combine Tex-Mex and Italian to give the best of both worlds. They’re spicy, with beans and sweetcorn and coriander… but also, pasta.
This is pretty much my heaven on a plate.
Easy no-cook filling
Since stuffing pasta shells is effort enough, I made sure the filling was super easy – it requires no pre-cooking at all. Black beans and sweetcorn straight from the tin, some fresh coriander (cilantro), and some creamy ricotta to hold everything together. I’ve used this exact combination to fill enchiladas before, and it works really well – it’s mild and creamy, and is the perfect contrast to the spicy enchilada sauce you pour over the top.
Of course, if you want to add extra ingredients to the filling, feel free – either something else that requires no cooking (maybe some chopped spring onions, or finely diced tomatoes), or if you can be bothered, something that needs a few minutes in a pan first (some chopped onion, peppers, that kind of thing).
Homemade enchilada sauce
Next up, the homemade enchilada sauce. I always make the effort to make enchilada sauce from scratch – I’m usually super lazy, but you can really taste the difference from the stuff you buy in a jar (though you can definitely use that instead if you prefer, no judgement here!). It’s a recipe I’ve mentioned a few times here on the blog, and it’s super easy – it literally takes a couple of minutes to make.
First, you make a paste with flour, spices, and tomato puree. Then add some veggie stock, and whisk it until it’s smooth. So, so easy.
Stuffed pasta shells
All that’s left to do is to stuff the filling into the pasta shells, and pour over the enchilada sauce. Make sure you use the extra big shells – they’re called conchiglioni.
Stuffing the shells can get a bit messy, but don’t fret – it really doesn’t matter if some of the filling spills out, or if some of the pasta shells tear a little as you stuff them. It’s a really forgiving dish – it’s all going to be hidden under that sauce anyway (as well as the cheesy topping!). If you have any of the filling mixture left over, you can just dollop it around the dish.
If you can’t find the big pasta shells, or you just can’t be bothered with individually stuffing them, you can use any other kind of pasta instead – stuff the filling into tubes of cannelloni, layer it up with lasagne, or just dollop it through a heap of penne. It will all taste amazing.
Of course, no pasta bake is complete without a cheesy topping – crispy in some places, gooey in others. It’s a must. I like to use a combination of cheddar and mozzarella – mozzarella helps it to get nice and gooey, and gives that beautiful stretchiness when you pull out the spoon, and cheddar gives lots of flavour, and crisps up beautifully.
I also like to add some sliced tomato – it makes it look a bit more interesting when it comes out of the oven, and extra veggies never hurt anyone!
The end result is a real crowd-pleaser – who doesn’t like cheesy pasta?!
Perfect for dinner parties
This is just the kind of dish I love to make when I have friends over – you can make it in advance, and then just pop it in the oven when your guests arrive, so you can be enjoying their company rather than slaving away over a hot stove. Place the bubbly dish in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves, family-style. All you need is some garlic bread and a bowlful of salad on the side, and you’re sorted. You could even play up the Tex-Mex theme with some little bowls of guacamole and sour cream – the perfect combination.
The perfect fusion of Tex-Mex and Italian - giant pasta shells stuffed with a creamy black bean mixture, and covered in a simple homemade enchilada sauce.
- 240 g (~ 8 1/2 oz) large pasta shells
- 400 g tin black beans, drained (240g, or ~ 1 1/4 cups, when drained)
- 130 g (~ 3/4 cup) sweetcorn - I used tinned
- Few sprigs fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
- 250 g (~ 1 cup) ricotta cheese
- Black pepper
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp tomato puree / paste
- 250 ml (~ 1 cup) water or vegetable stock
- 100 g (~ 3 1/2 oz) mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 50 g cheddar cheese, grated (~ 1/2 cup when grated)
- 1 tomato sliced
Cook the pasta shells in a large pan of water until al dente (they need to be pliable, but preferably just short of being fully cooked). Drain, and cover with cold water.
In a mixing bowl, combine the black beans, sweetcorn, chopped coriander, and ricotta cheese. Season generously with salt and pepper, and mix well to combine.
To make the homemade enchilada sauce, heat the oil in a small saucepan, and add the flour, spices and tomato puree. Whisk over a low heat to give a thick paste. Add the vegetable stock a little at a time, whisking until smooth each time before adding more. Season to taste.
To assemble, add a couple of tablespoons of the enchilada sauce to the bottom of a baking dish (mine measured around 8 x 8 inches). Spread it around to give a thin coating of sauce - this helps to stop the pasta sticking. Stuff each pasta shell with a spoonful of the ricotta mixture, and arrange them in the dish. Pour over the remaining sauce, trying to make sure the pasta is fully covered with a thin layer of sauce, especially any edges or corners.
Top the pasta with some sliced mozzarella and grated cheddar, and a few slices of tomato. Bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 40 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and crispy.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/4 of the recipe.