Stuffed Pasta Shells (Lumaconi Ripieni)


I’ve oddly never written about this dish because I believed it to be supremely complicated and fussy to make. Reserved for the most special of occasions, it took on near mythical properties growing up. On a recent trip to London, my mother offered to show me how to make it and, as is so often the case, it turns out to be very easy. Getting an actual recipe from her, though, was not so easy. Everything done ‘all’occhio’ (literally by the eye), I ran after her remeasuring everything she casually threw in the bowl. They’re packed with flavor from the porcini mushrooms and deliciously rich so remember that a little goes a long way!


NB: Always be on the look out for large pasta shells. Not as easy to find as they once were, buy 2 packs whenever you see them.


Stuffed Pasta Shells (Lumaconi Ripieni)


Serves 4


1/2 lb large pasta shells

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

Dash of grated nutmeg

1/4 cup butter + 2 tablespoons 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/4 cup dried porcini, soaked in hot water and then finely chopped

1/4 cup Marsala/sherry

1 egg

1/2 lb ricotta

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling

Salt and pepper

1 cup light cream



1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 8 minutes. Drain and dry spread out on a large tea towel. 

3. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the spinach with a little grated nutmeg for a few minutes. 

4. Transfer to a large bowl and then in the same pan, heat the 2 tablespoons butter and add the garlic and mushrooms. After a few minutes, add the Marsala or sherry and cook for a further 2 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Add the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the spinach and leave to cool. 

5. Once cool, add the egg, ricotta and Parmesan. Season well with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

6. Butter a large baking dish that will fit all the shells in one layer. Stuff each shell with a large tablespoon of the mushroom and spinach mixture. 

7. In a small saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup of butter, add the light cream and bring to a simmer. Pour over the pasta and then sprinkle with more Parmesan.

8. Bake covered for 20 minutes and then uncovered for 10 minutes. Serve warm.


Mole Beef Tacos


In the last few years, I’ve become slightly obsessed with tacos. My favorite are from a restaurant round the corner from me called Empellon Taqueria. Just writing about them makes me want to run over there for a plate of their skirt steak tacos on which I like to pour their famous smoked cashew salsa. Their tacos inspired me to start experimenting at home. This taco recipe rivals any I’ve had at Empellon and if you find yourself with any Mole Beef leftover (unlikely), I discovered it also makes unbelievable Nachos.


Mole Beef Tacos by Bunches and Bunches

From Recipes from Many Kitchens 
Serves 6

Mole Beef:
3 pounds (900g) organic beef chuck

1 onion, roughly chopped
Smoked Oaxacan Mole Sauce
Salt and pepper


Tacos and toppings:
12 small corn tortillas, wrapped in foil and warmed in the oven
1 avocado, cubed
queso fresco, crumbled
4 radishes, sliced paper thin
cilantro leaves for garnish


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Season the meat with salt and pepper.
2) In a large dutch oven, brown the meat on all sides over high heat, about 5 minutes per side.
3) Scatter the onion around the beef and cover with mole sauce and bring to a simmer.
4) Cover and braise in the oven until the meat is very tender, about 2-3 hours.
5) Just before you remove the meat from the oven, divide the tortillas in 2 stacks, wrap in foil and put in the oven.
6) Remove the meat to a chopping board or platter and shred with two forks. Return to the pot and stir the shredded beef with the cooked sauce.
7) I like to put the pot of beef in the middle of the table with the tortillas wrapped in a tea towel along with all the fixings and let everyone prepare their own tacos just the way they like them.