Chiocciole Al Mascarpone E Noce (Pasta Shells with Cream Cheese and Walnuts)


This is an Elizabeth David number from her excellent ’Italian Food’. I don’t usually put up other people’s recipes but this really is good, astonishingly simple to make, and I have not seen a similar one before. I’ve made it for a number of people, and it has gone down well all round. It is very rich, so would be a good first course in a small quantity. It could precede a plate of grilled meat or fish if part of a larger meal. When I made it for my brother Henry, it was followed by roasted whole chicken leg served with a green salad and nothing else.

These are my own words and quantities, but this is entirely Mrs David’s dish.

For 2 as a small dish


2 heaped tablespoons, chopped walnuts

2-3 tablespoons, Mascarpone

1 oz  of unsalted butter (a generous knob of butter)

3 heaped tablespoons, Parmesan, plus more to serve

150g pasta (shells or rigatone or penne or orrechiette etc.)

How to make:

Place a large pan of well-salted water on to boil. When it is boiling furiously add the pasta and cook until al dente. Be sure to reserve ½ cup of cooking water before draining.

While it is boiling, gently melt the butter and then add the mascarpone on a very low heat in a separate pan. Add the parmesan and stir until melted, add the walnuts and season with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is cooked, stir a tablespoon or two of cooking water into the cheese mix, then toss well with the pasta. If it needs more lubrication, add a bit more butter.

Eaten with:

Extra parmesan, and a good green salad (dressing of ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper).


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