Make Ahead

Pears, Fennel and Cream Sauce in Pasta Shells

September 13, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Serves 4 as entree
Author Notes

This recipe came about because we love pears, fennel, hazelnuts, bacon and cream sauce. So I just kept messing around with ingredients until we had a winner. To justify the cream (hey, I didn't add butter too!) I read the health benefits of pears, fennel and hazlenuts out loud to the diners before eating and then we don't have ice cream for dessert.

This is a forgiving recipe because I need one when entertaining. Hey, who can go wrong with cream and bacon ! Feel free to add whatever vegetables you want into the shells if fennel isn't your thing. Sauteed arugula or spinach would be great. I use Pecorino Romano and Parmesan because in my view it doesn't overpower the pears, but use whatever you like.

My daughter's boyfriend the Italian Chef gave me the tip of adding enough pasta water to the pan the shells will be baked in to barely cover the bottom. This had made a difference - no more stuck shells.



What You'll Need
  • 3 Pears, large (I used red skinned) halved, cored and cut into 1/4 inch chunks
  • 2 Fennel bulbs large, fine chopped
  • 3 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 6 - 8 Bacon, thick-sliced, browned and chopped into small dice
  • 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped into small pieces
  • 6 ounces Pecarino Romano cheese, grated
  • Parmesan cheese, grated for topping
  • 12 Jumbo Pasta Shells for stuffing
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Toss pears in olive oil and roast at 380F about 20 minutes. Toss fennel in olive oil with salt and pepper and roast at 380 F at same time as pears are roasting. Roast fennel for 30 - 40 minutes.
  2. Brown bacon. An easy way is to put it on cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil at 350F for about 30 - 45 minutes.
  3. In a heavy large high sided pan place the cream, garlic, cayenne and rosemary. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent the cream from boiling over. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for another 10 - 15 minutes longer until the mixture has thickened, remembering to stir regularly.
  4. When the cream mixture has thickened add the cheese and mix until cheese has melted.
  5. Add the bacon and the hazelnuts, stir in and set sauce aside.
  6. Boil large pasta shells until al dente. Put in about a tablespoon of olive oil in the water which will help the shells from sticking together. When done, drain and keep about 1 cup of pasta water aside. Place shells in oven proof glass baking pan in which you have poured just enough pasta water to barely cover the bottom.
  7. Fill pasta shells with fennel, then pears. When all the shells are filled pour sauce over the top. (If your sauce is too thick, thin it with a little pasta water before pouring it over filled shells.) Baked at 350F for 30 - 40 minutes.
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Recipe by: SKK

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15 Reviews

gingerroot September 16, 2011
This sounds amazing. Yum!
SKK September 16, 2011
Thank you, gingerroot. Very seldom have cream AND bacon in the house at the same time, only for this recipe. It is our decadent dinner!
wssmom September 15, 2011
Oh my goodness this looks astonishingly wonderful!
SKK September 15, 2011
Thanks, wssmom!
BlueKaleRoad September 15, 2011
Delicious! Mmmm, love fennel and combined with pears sounds divine.
SKK September 15, 2011
It is - and the bacon and cream help!
aargersi September 14, 2011
Really great flavors - and also love the pasta baking tip!!!
SKK September 14, 2011
Thank you aargersi. The tip from the Daughter's Boyfriend has paid off!
plshelby September 14, 2011
Thank you for creating a collaboration of tastes using seasonal ingredients (and others--bacon and cream). As the leaves turn and the temperature gets cooler, this dish sooths my soul.
SKK September 14, 2011
Wow, plshelby, I should have asked you to write the headnotes. You are a poet!
lapadia September 14, 2011
Love how you put this altogether, SKK! Also love your justifications :)
lapadia September 14, 2011
"all together" :0
SKK September 14, 2011
lapadia, I am the queen of justifications around food. Need any, just ask! Thanks for your kind comment.
AntoniaJames September 14, 2011
Amazing! This is inspired. Love it. ;o)
SKK September 14, 2011
I am grinning here, turning a shade of pink - inspired as a comment from Antonia James means a lot! I will take it, thank you!