A quick and easy Shell pasta dish in a garlic cream cheese sauce and bacon. Utterly delicious and super versatile!! This small shell pasta dish can be made in less than 30 minutes. With some wine or protein as sides, this makes a tasty lunch or dinner.
Shell Pasta in a simple cream cheese sauce is a perfect weeknight dinner. This tiny pasta holds the creamy sauce in its cavities so well. Cream cheese adds a slight tang to the sauce, so no bland boring cream sauce here.
This pasta recipe is so versatile. You can go with veg or non-vegetarian flavours and add-ons and it just comes up great. That makes it a multi-version meal that can be done differently again and again.
What attracted me to this packet of pasta in the store was the shape. Who hasn’t been enamored by the shape of Conch shells while growing up? I loved to play with them as a kid. And now to cook with shell-shaped pasta seemed like FUN.
How life has come full circle? Shells reminded me of my childhood and the first thing my daughter says when she sees them is ' Mama, I wish I could play with them !'
Conchiglie (pronounced as con-KEEL-yay) is pasta in the form of seashells, made from durum wheat. You can also get colored varieties of it from using natural coloring agents like squid ink or vegetable extracts. In short, a shapely and colorful pasta to excite the kids.
HOW TO MAKE CREAMY CHEESY SHELL PASTA?
The entire process takes less than 30 minutes to make. There is hardly any chopping involved. So the dinner is ready on the table in no time.
- Start with cooking the pasta. Season the water well. Cook till done. Reserve 1.5 cups of pasta water which we are going to use later to thicken the sauce.
- Multitasking is the key, so while the pasta is getting cooked cook bacon until crispy. Use a kitchen scissor to cut the bacon.
- Discard excess bacon fat, because we don't want to overpower the sauce with bacon. I want the delicate cream cheese to sign through.
- Keep the temperature low while adding cream cheese and parmesan to avoid curdling.
- Once the sauce is ready, add back pasta, bacon, pepper, and more pasta water if required.
What else can you add to a cream cheese shell pasta?
I had gone ahead with bacon to add flavour and aroma to the dish. Bacon is a regular addition to my pasta dishes to bring an extra element to all that cheese. Any other protein like chicken would work great too. Pancetta is another great option and is loved by the family. These additions enhance the dish in terms of complexity of flavour and help not make the cheesy dishes "one-note". Throw in a few spices if you would like to up the heat.
Vegetarians can add spinach to their pasta. Not only does it bring a leafy freshness and flavour but it is quite healthy on the plus side. Mushrooms or broccoli is again another good option.
What sides to have with shell pasta?
I would go with wine as an accompaniment for sure. Just to wash down the creaminess while gorging on this bowl of pasta. Red or white wine as per your preference.
A grilled protein or a plate of salad would be a great addition both in terms of taste as well as adding macros and nutrients to the meal.
More Pasta Recipe...
Cream Cheese Pasta
- 250 grams Shell Pasta
- 6-7 strips Bacon Cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoon Butter
- 1 tablespoon Garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 180 grams Cream Cheese
- 1 cup Parmesan
- pepper as per taste
- Cook pasta as per package instruction. Reserve 1.5 cups of pasta water. Drain pasta.
- While pasta is cooking, heat a pan. Cook chopped bacon until brown and crispy.
- Remove crispy bacon using a slotted spoon, keep aside and discard excess fat.
- To the same pan add butter, once the butter melts, add minced garlic.
- Cook garlic for 30 seconds until the raw smell is gone and start to change color.
- Add 1 cup of pasta water, Italian seasoning.
- Lower heat, add Cream cheese. Mix until well incorporated.
- Stir in parmesan.
- Add cooked pasta, bacon, season with pepper. Check salt and add more if required. Toss everything well.
- If required, add remaining pasta water to adjust the consistency.