Baked Shells With Fresh Spinach and Pancetta

Recipe by mersaydees

This is a prepare-ahead one-dish pasta dinner based on a recipe by Nancy Verde Barr in the January 1993 issue of Food & Wine magazine. You may use prosciutto in place of the pancetta.

Top Review by bluemoon downunder

An easy to prepare and really flavoursome pasta dish - basically a seventh heaven dish for spinach lovers! While cooking the pancetta in step two, I (3 cloves), some finely minced added some finely minced garlic onion (one onion), a generous pinch of nutmeg and several grindings of black pepper. I used a low-fat cream which I've always found makes no appreciable difference to the dish, regular parmesan, and rather more than the specified amount of spinach. I used baby spinach leaves, chopped, stems and all. The stems are very soft and I've never understood removing them. mersaydees, this recipe is going to become SO well known at my place, and among my friends and family that by rights we should be declaring a toast in your honour each and every time we eat it! Thanks so much for sharing it! Made for Please Review My Recipe tag game.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. In a heavy medium nonreactive saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the heavy cream and tomato puree and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until reduced to 2 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the pancetta in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat until slightly crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spinach in batches and cook, tossing, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the pasta shells in a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water until barely al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.
  4. Toss the pasta with the creamy tomato sauce and the spinach. Spoon it into a 3-quart shallow buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese on top and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until piping hot.

Join the Conversation

  • all
  • reviews
  • tweaks
  • q & a