Conchiglie pronounced as “con-keel-yay” and also known as “seashells” or “shells”, is medium sized conch shaped pasta from Italy. There are many sizes of this pasta that are used for various culinary purposes. While, the small sized ones are ideal for soups, the jumbo sized ones are either baked or stuffed. This shell-shaped pasta holds sauces well and the ideal sauce bases of this pasta include meat sauces and tomato sauces. They are also served in pasta salads. The traditional variety is made with durum wheat; however, other flavors such as tomato, spinach and squid ink extracts are also popular. Though this pasta is from Italy, it is more popular in the UK, where it is used in many preparations. A few popular recipes of this pasta include Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas & Chili, Conchiglie con Langostinos un Pomodori Secchi Salsa di Mornay, Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms & Radicchio and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Conchiglie with Saffron, Capers & Raisins.
Conchiglie originates in Italy, where the name is derived from “conchiglia”, an Italian word that means seashell. In fact, this word is similar in meaning with the English “conch”, which has been derived from “konkhe”, the Greek word for shell.
- There is a mini variety of this pasta, which is known as “Conchigliette”, ideal for soups.
- Conchiglioni is a larger variety of this pasta that is stuffed with various ingredients.
Conchiglie pairs well with various ingredients such as –
- Meats (chicken, pork, beef, pork)
- Sauces (tomato sauce, mornay sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cream sauces)
- Cheeses ( cheddar, mozzarella, ricotta, pecorino, parmesan)
- Herbs (parsley, mint, rosemary, sage, basil, parsley)
- Vegetables (most vegetables such as carrots, peas, mushrooms, radicchio, celery; especially pairs well with spinach)
Conchiglie can be replaced in various preparations with other types of similar pasta such as fusilli, farfalle, gemelli, penne, macaroni, rigatoni, ziti, lumache, cavatelli, rigatoni, radiator or ruote.
The larger sized Conchiglioni can be substituted with manicotti, lumaconi, and cannelloni.
Popular Conchiglie Recipes
There are many scrumptious preparations of Conchiglie pasta. Detailed here are a couple of recipes –
- Conchiglie with yogurt, Peas and Chili – This is a delicious sweet and spicy pasta dish that is made with Greek yogurt as the base. It is served as a main dish or even as a salad. Prepare the yogurt sauce by blending yogurt, crushed garlic, olive oil and peas to a smooth paste. Meanwhile, cook the pasta till al dente and drain off excess water. Toss the pasta with the yogurt sauce along with blanched peas and broken feta cheese and basil, salt and white pepper. Toss the ingredients well and serve with a garnish of sautéed and browned pine nuts and chili (kirmizi biber).
- Conchiglie con Langostinos un Pomodori Secchi Salsa di Mornay – This wholesome dish is prepared by boiling pasta till al dente. Drain the pasta off excess water and set aside after tossing with a little olive oil. Meanwhile, prepare the mornay sauce (sauté a little flour in heated butter and cook this with milk and grated cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper) and toss the pasta in this sauce. Serve the tossed pasta with a topping of sautéed langostino (which has been sautéed in olive oil, flavored with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and seasoned with salt and pepper) and a garnish of fresh basil and toasted pangolin.
- Conchiglie al Forno with Mushrooms and Radicchio – This baked dish is prepared by boiling pasta till al dente and drained off excess water. Meanwhile, prepare a sauce base by mixing sautéed mushrooms, grated cheese (parmiginao-reggiano), cream, radicchio, fresh sage and salt. Pour this mixture into greased gratin bowls and bake till the top bubbles and browns well. Serve the dish garnished with fresh parsley; however, do not add this during the cooking process.
Note: In case fresh sage is not available, other fresh herbs such as thyme, tarragon, fennel or rosemary can be used. However, it is not advisable to use dried herbs, as they will not impart the same flavor to the dish.
Hard wheat such as durum wheat are ideal for making Conchiglie, as they are firm even after cooking and tend to hold the sauces and stuffing better.