Jumbo Pasta shells are filled with ham, sweet potato spinach and ricotta, then topped with cheese and baked to comforting perfection.
What to do with leftover ham
Notes, tips and tricks
- Jumbo pasta shells – also known as conchiglie, these fit a good 2-3 tablespoons worth of filling. If you can’t find them, use cannelloni or lasagna sheets. Cook them in well salted boiling water until just al dente. They should still have a little bite to them as they will finish cooking in the oven.
- Herbs – use fresh if you can. I love any excuse to use fresh herbs.
- Sweet potato – the flesh cooks to smooth and creamy. You could substitute with pumpkin or butternut squash.
- The cheeses – I use a lot of ‘light’ products (for waistline purposes) including the ricotta and cheddar in this recipe. If you prefer whole versions, go right ahead.
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Ricotta and sweet potato combine with leftover ham to create this comforting pasta bake.
- 250 g jumbo pasta shells (notes)
- 2 medium (650g) sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (notes)
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 cup (150g) ham, roughy chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (notes)
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, finely chopped (notes)
- 100 g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 175 g (3/4 cup) light ricotta
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 75 g (1 cup) not packed light cheddar, coarsley grated
- Salt and pepper to season
Preheat oven to 200C / 400F / 180C fan forced.
Peel and chop potatoes into large chunks. Put them in cold water in saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drain. Mash and set aside.
Bring another pan of water to the boil. Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt and then the pasta and boil for 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water before draining the rest away. The pasta should not be cooked through.
Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes until softened.
Add the ham and thyme and sauté for a minute or so until the ham gets a little colour.
Add the spinach and allow it to wilt a little before turning off the heat.
Tip the cooked mixture into the bowl with the mashed sweet potato, then add the ricotta, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.
Pour the reserved pasta water into a 6 cup capacity casserole dish (or the same pan you cooked everything in as long as it is oven safe).
Fill each shell with the filling and sit them side by side in the dish.
Sprinkle over the cheese and a little more salt & pepper.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden on top.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (4 teaspoons worldwide)
- If you can't find jumbo pasta shells, you can use cannelloni tubes or lasagna sheets to make it in the form of lasagna