Cheesy Conchiglie Pasta al Forno baked pasta shells

Cheesy Conchiglie Pasta al Forno (baked pasta shells).

Mac and cheese isn’t an Italian recipe but there are many delicious Italian versions of pasta with a cheese sauce, like this cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno.

Cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno (baked pasta shells).

Pasta al forno or baked pasta is a staple in most Italian homes on Sundays and holidays. Apart from being delicious, baked pasta is a great way to feed a large number and can often be prepared in advance! The classic Italian pasta al forno is made with a meat ragu, béchamel and cheese. However, there are hundreds of other recipes that fall into the pasta al forno category.

Cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno (baked pasta shells) in individual terracotta oven dishes

Some baked pasta recipes take a while to prepare, especially if using a meat sauce. Others are pretty simple and fast! This cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno is definitely one of the simpler ways to make baked pasta. But simpler doesn’t mean lacking in taste. This is seriously yummy, cheesy and creamy!

ingredients for cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno (baked pasta shells).

Pasta al forno bianca (white).

This recipe is what Italians call pasta al forno bianca, meaning white baked pasta. In other words, no tomatoes! Many white baked pasta dishes contain meat such as ham, sausage or ground meat.  This cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno is meatless and the sauce is really just béchamel with cheese and eggs. So super easy to make!

grated fontina cheese in bowl and béchamel sauce in pan

The cheese.

I made the béchamel sauce myself, but to make this cheesy baked pasta even faster you can use a ready-made white sauce. The cheese in this recipe is grated grana or Parmigiano Reggiano plus fontina. Fontina is my favourite Italian melting cheese. It comes from the Val d’Aosta and is the cheese Italians use in their version of cheese fondue! So, as you can imagine it melts into a wonderful creamy cheese sauce!

eggs, grated grana, béchamel, pepper and salt in white mixing bowl with whisk

However, if you can’t find fontina, you can use another good melting cheese such as mild provolone, gruyere or gouda! For US readers: apparently the fontina available in US is mostly Danish and is milder than Italian fontina!

conchiglie pasta shells

The pasta.

For this baked pasta shells recipe I used dried conchiglie made with eggs. Conchiglie are middle sized pasta shells. Large  pasta shells which are usually filled and baked are called conchiglione or lumaconi. Then there are very small pasta shells, conchigliette, which are great in soups! You can read more about these different pasta shells if you click here!

cooked pasta shells in white bowl with cheese sauce

Conchiglie are a great choice for this cheesy baked pasta as the shells get filled with the sauce, making every mouthful super delicious! But, if you want to use a different type of pasta, then I’d recommend pasta tubes like mezze maniche or penne.

Cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno (baked pasta shells).

Serving your cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno.

It’s traditional to make baked pasta in a rectangular oven dish. But, this time round I had guests coming for lunch, so I decided to bake and serve this pasta al forno bianca in individual terracotta oven dishes. I got these dishes a while back when I bought and cooked jumbo pasta shells called caccavelle.

Cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno (baked pasta shells) in individual terracotta dishes before baking

Those shells are said to be the biggest pasta in the world and each terracotta pot only takes one pasta shell. My guests loved their individual portions and am sure yours will too if you do the same. Otherwise just use a normal oven dish. Whichever way you serve this cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno, everyone will love it!

Cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno (baked pasta shells).

If you do try this cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon Appetito!

Other great baked pasta recipes on The Pasta Project

  1. Classic pasta al Forno
  2. Baked conchiglione with spinach and ricotta
  3. Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
  4. Caccavelle alla Sorrentina
  5. Baked Tuscan gnudi (malfatti)
  6. Tagliolini au gratin with ham and cream

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5 from 16 votes
Cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno (baked pasta shells).
Cheesy conchiglie pasta al forno (baked pasta shells).
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

This delicious Italian baked pasta shells recipe is made with bechamel sauce, fontina and grated grana! It's creamy and cheesy and easy to make! Perfect for weeknights and entertaining.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: baked pasta recipe, bechamel, conchiglie, fontina, pasta shells
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
Ingredients
  • 400 g pasta shells (14oz) conchiglie
  • 150 g fontina cheese (6oz)
  • 100 g Parmigiano Reggiano or grana grated (3.5oz)
  • 2 eggs
  • 480 g béchamel (white sauce) if using ready made (17 oz)
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • butter as required
If making your own béchamel
  • 100 g butter (3.5oz)
  • 100 g all purpose flour (3.5oz)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 Lt milk (34 floz)
Instructions
Homemade white sauce (béchamel)
  1. In a saucepan let the butter melt over a moderate flame. Add the flour a little at a time, stir carefully and make sure any lumps of flour dissolve until you have a smooth roux. Then pour in the milk a little at a time, continuing to stir until it starts to thicken. Add a pinch of salt. Continuing stirring until the béchamel is thick enough. If it gets too thick you can add more milk. Set aside and allow to cool.

Cook the pasta
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta a little less than al dente, according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is ready, drain and rinse under cold running water so that it doesn’t continue cooking.

Finish the dish
  1. Put the cooled (or ready made) béchamel in a bowl with the eggs and 1/3 of Parmigiano Reggiano/grana, add salt, pepper and mix with a whisk. Add the cooked pasta shells to the bowl and mix gently.

  2. Coarsely grate the fontina; butter your oven dishes/dish and make a layer of the pasta with sauce in the bottom. Cover with grated fontina and add another layer of pasta and then fontina. When you have used up all the pasta and fontina, cover the top with the remaining grana or Parmigiano. Add a few flakes of butter to the top.

  3. Bake at 180 ° C for 25 minutes, until a golden crust has formed on the surface of the pasta. Serve immediately while the sauce is creamy. 

Recipe Notes

If you want to use a different type of pasta to make this cheesy baked pasta, then I’d recommend pasta tubes like mezze maniche or penne.

if you can’t find fontina, you can use another good melting cheese such as mild provolone, gruyere or gouda! For US readers: apparently the fontina available in US is mostly Danish and is milder than Italian fontina!

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23 Comments

  • Jo Allison / Jo’s Kitchen Larder
    March 8, 2019 4:03 pm

    Baked cheesy pasta, it really doesn’t get better than this. Proper comfort food. 🙂

  • Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    March 7, 2019 2:38 pm

    Such a tasty looking dish, so cheesy and filling! Would love this right now.

  • Rosa
    March 7, 2019 2:06 pm

    OH EM GEE! This looks so yummy! Being Italian we made a version of this in a large tray offen growing up but I’ve never had cute individual portions like this. LOVE THIS!! Can’t wait to try.

  • Danielle Wolter
    March 7, 2019 1:43 pm

    these look so cheesy and delicious i can almost taste them. i love how simple the ingredients are, and how easy this is to make.

  • Kate Hackworthy
    March 7, 2019 1:15 pm

    MMMM baked cheesy pasta is amazing. I love how oozy and tasty yours looks.

  • Dannii Martin
    March 7, 2019 12:09 pm

    I love an easy baked pasta dish and this is total comfort food!

    • Jacqui
      March 7, 2019 12:54 pm

      I agree Dannii! Baked pasta is my favourite comfort food!

  • Caroline
    March 5, 2019 5:33 pm

    This looks so comforting and tasty. I love the choice of pasta and cheeses in here.

  • Brian Jones
    March 5, 2019 9:05 am

    So delicious and so simple, I love that this uses conchiglie, those little pools of backed cheesy bechamel are like wee pools of magic!

  • Lesli Schwartz
    March 4, 2019 9:09 pm

    This is just pure cheesy goodness! Rich and comforting I could eat several platefuls of this dish! Thanks for sharing!

  • Beth Neels
    March 4, 2019 7:01 pm

    Yum! This is comfort food at it’s finest! I love all of the different cheeses that you add! We have a wonderful Italian grocer in the city that has all imported cheeses from Italy. I’m going to see if they have Italian fontina! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Cathy
    March 4, 2019 2:38 am

    These shells look so delicious and creamy! Cannot wait to make these!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:06 am

      Grazie Cathy! These baked pasta shells are superlicious. I’m sure you’ll love them!

  • Darlene @ Dip Recipe Creations
    March 4, 2019 2:33 am

    Shells and cheese are my favorite combination and this white pasta dish looks amazing.

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:07 am

      So kind of you to say so Darlene! Pasta shells and cheese are a favourite of mine too!

  • Susan @ Simply Sundays
    March 4, 2019 1:22 am

    Absolutely mouth watering! Love that you made this in individual servings. I just pinned this and can’t wait to try it out!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:08 am

      Thanks so much Susan! I love baking pasta in individual portions. It adds an elegant touch and there’s no fighting over portion sizes!! I’m certain you’ll really enjoy this recipe!

  • Cristie
    March 4, 2019 1:15 am

    I love the simplicity of this and I love that they are individually served. These would be a hit with my little guy I’m sure.

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:09 am

      Thanks Cristie! I also love that this dish is so simple to make! Am sure your son will really like it!

  • kim
    March 3, 2019 9:55 pm

    So creamy and delicious! I love this recipe!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:10 am

      Grazie Kim! Yes very creamy and delicious! A real winner dinner!

  • Amy | The Cook Report
    March 3, 2019 9:45 pm

    This looks so cheesy and yummy, I can’t wait to try it!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:11 am

      I’m sure you’ll love this dish Amy! Thanks for commenting!

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