Chicken, Herb and Ricotta-Filled Pasta Shells

, from Issue #71. March, 2017
Photography by Manja Wachsmuth.
Chicken, Herb and Ricotta-Filled Pasta Shells

Apart from being super tasty, this dish is a great do-ahead recipe that you can make up the day before cooking and serving. Cover and chill but take out of the fridge 2 hours before cooking. 

Serves: 6


20 large pasta shells (such as lumaconi)

¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs
finely grated zest 1 large lemon
¼ cup milk
¼ cup finely chopped mint
2 cloves garlic, crushed
700 grams chicken mince
200 grams firm ricotta (such as Zany Zeus or Clevedon Valley)
1 large egg, size 7
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
sea salt and ground pepper

To assemble: 
3 cups purchased tomato pasta sauce
½ cup cream
1 cup grated mozzarella
big handful fresh basil leaves


Preheat the oven to 180°C fan bake.

Cook the pasta shells in a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water until cooked, about 20 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside on a clean tea towel to drain.

Filling: Combine the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, milk, mint and garlic in a large bowl and leave for 5 minutes. Add the chicken mince, ricotta, egg and parmesan, season generously and mix
until well combined. Don’t mix in a food processor. 

To assemble: Mix the pasta sauce with the cream and season. 

Pour half the tomato cream mixture into the base of a large ovenproof baking dish.

Fill each pasta shell loosely with the chicken mixture and place in the dish. Pour the remaining sauce over and around the shells.

Scatter over the mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil. Tuck half of the basil leaves between the shells.    

Bake for 25–30 minutes or until bubbling and golden. Tuck in the remaining basil leaves just before serving. Serves 6