This is a healthy pasta dish, shells filled with a mix of broccoli, hazelnuts and ricotta and baked in the oven to make a surprisingly light dish.
I used 10 giant pasta shells and this serves 2 to 3 persons.
You will need:
10 pasta shells. Boil plenty water with a bit of salt and when it reaches boiling point drop the shells into the water gently. Lower the heat to a gentle boil and after 2 minutes lift out.
75g uncooked broccoli
1 egg (optional, you can leave them out and they still work well without the egg)
One tablespoon freshly grated parmesan [or hard Maltese gbejna]
salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine the above 5 ingredients in a food processor until you have a thick paste
Fill the pasta shells using a piping bag or a teaspoon.
You will then need 3 tablespoons of polenta in a flat dish. Dip each shell, filling side down, to seal the filling.
You will also need some simple prepared tomato sauce and you can prepare this the day before following your usual recipe or you can make it quickly gently sweating half an onion, one clove garlic, both finely chopped, add a can of tomatoes, cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add half a glass of wine if you wish. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and some dried oregano.
Place the sauce in an oven proof dish and arrange the filled pasta shells facing down on top of the sauce.
To make the white parsley and cheese sauce use 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 500 ml milk and 100g of mascarpone (optional and still good if you leave it out) and a bay leaf. When it starts to boil lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then add 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
Pour over the pasta shells. If you leave the mascarpone out, allow the dish to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before baking. This allows the pasta to absorb some of the liquid ingredients, improving on texture and flavour. At this stage you can also freeze the dish and bake it when you are going to use it. It keeps well in the freezer for 3 months.