New recipes and updates

Get new recipes
in your inbox

Cuisine Fiend

Find a recipe by ingredient

Conchiglioni with beef ragu

Fri, 19 October, 2018

Whether you call these conchiglioni with ragu or jumbo shells with beef, one thing is certain: it's a killer dish worth completely the bit of effort it requires.

beef pasta shells

What's the filling for conchiglioni?

I have a confession to make: I made the filling for these conchiglioni as a beef chilli. Mexican beef chilli, though not particularly hot or spicy.

jumbo shells bake

Difference between chilli and ragu

Fusion? Cultural appropriation? Perhaps, but please note that actually the main difference between a beef ragu and beef chilli is the type of seasoning and soupiness. I skipped the cumin this time, though I love the earthy flavour it adds to the dishes, and I dropped just a smidgen of chilli paste into the pan.

Let’s face it: both dishes are probably not far off Scottish mince and tatties, sans the tatties.

conchiglioni with beef ragu

Fillings depend on locality

There are only so many things you can do with minced meat; and depending on whereabouts you are, the flavourings, additions and textures will change subject to available produce.

Wontons are filled with prawns; pierogis with cabbage. Risotto has Parmesan on top; and paella – smoked paprika. Noodles were brought to Italy with Marco Polo and potatoes to Ireland with Sir Walter Raleigh.

giant shells stuffed with beef

It's all in the name

My point is that it’s all food at the end of the day. Maybe if we don’t call things by their proper names we can avoid attacks like the ones Jamie Oliver and his paella suffered. Slap things together, make use of those silly list-like dish names that some restaurants adopt and you won’t be trolled by militant Bolognans (Bologneri?) shaking their girarisos at you.

That’s it then: scratch conchiglioni. Delete ragu. It’s now jumbo pasta shells with beef filling. Phew.

Conchiglioni with beef ragu

Servings: 4 as a starter, 2 as a main courseTime: 1 hour 30 minutes
Rating: (1 reviews)


  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 200g (2 cups) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves smashed and chopped roughly
  • 250g (½ pound) minced beef
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2-3 large fleshy tomatoes, diced (or ½ tin of chopped tomatoes)
  • 150g (5 oz.) conchiglioni (giant pasta shells)
  • 30g (2 tbsp.) Parmesan
  • 100g (3 oz.) grated cooking mozzarella or provolone


1. Heat up 1 tbsp. of oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Scorch the cherry tomatoes in the oil tossing on all sides and smash them with the back of a wooden spoon. Season with the salt and paprika and scrape them all into a large baking dish, large enough to fit the shells in a single layer – the shells will sit on the smashed tomatoes.

smashed tomatoes

2. To make the beef ragu filling, heat up another tbsp. of oil in the same pan. Add the onion and sweat over medium heat until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the beef mince and turn up the heat. Cook, breaking up the clumps with a fork until it is evenly coloured.  Season with salt and pepper and add the diced tomatoes. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens. Take the beef off the heat and let it cool down while the pasta is cooking.

3. Cook the pasta shells in plenty of salted water for exactly half the time advised on the package; usually it will be about 6 minutes. Drain them and rinse with cold water, drizzle with a little olive oil and leave them on a colander or a tray to drain – turned upside down if you can be bothered.

filling pasta shells

4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. When the pasta and the filling are cool enough to handle, stir half the grated parmesan into the beef ragu. Fill the shells with about a spoonful of the filling each and place in the dish on the smashed tomatoes. Top with mozzarella, pushing it into the shells. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

5. Bake for 30 minutes until the shells are scorched and crispy. Let it stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

NEW recipe finder

Ingredients lying around and no idea what to cook with them? Then use my NEW Recipe Finder for inspiration!

Recipe Finder

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Elaine - that's a great and simple idea!
3 years ago
Elaine Beard
Thank you for this.I am filling mine with a favourite spaghetti meatball filling.Top with passata and cheese.
3 years ago

Cuisine Fiend's

most recent

About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


Sign up to receive the weekly recipes updates

Follow Fiend