When I was a kid my Mum cooked small pasta shells for us all the time. How I loved it when little pieces of meat from the Bolognese sauce got trapped in them. These Baked Kale & Ricotta Stuffed Shells are the ultimate for me. They are easy to make too: stuff them, pour over some lycopene-rich Quick Tomato Sauce, sprinkle with cheese and bake. Lycopene, found in tomatoes, is a cancer preventing antioxidant. Perfect to tempt a jaded palate, and perfect for the family too.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9- by 12-inch baking tray.
2. Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold water and ice. Set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop in the kale leaves and garlic cloves and boil for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the kale leaves and garlic cloves and drop them into the prepared ice water.
4. Bring the same pot of water to boil and add in the pasta. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes less than package instructions. Drain the pasta and toss with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
5. Meanwhile, drain the kale and squeeze out the excess water. Coarsely chop, then blend the chopped kale with the garlic cloves, ricotta, salt, basil leaves, egg, and Parmesan cheese. Fill the pasta shells with a scant 1 tablespoon of the kale ricotta mixture and place in the prepared baking pan.
6. Top the stuffed shells with the Quick Tomato Sauce and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and the reserved Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is turning golden brown. Serve hot.
- 1 pound kale leaves, washed and stems removed
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- Salt, to taste
- 12 ounces whole wheat jumbo pasta shells (see Ann’s Tips)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 10-ounces (1¼ cup) ricotta cheese
- 1 cup basil leaves packed
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons reserved for topping
- 4 cups Quick Tomato Sauce
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Ann's Tips and Tricks
This is a perfect use for any Quick Tomato Sauce you may have stashed in your freezer. Don’t defrost, it will lose nutrients, just heat it up in a small pan before using.
Whole Wheat Jumbo shells can be hard to find consistently. Since these shells are stuffed with fiber rich kale, I’d go ahead and make them with regular jumbo pasta shells if the wholewheat prove too hard to find. FYI medium size whole wheat shells can be found from DeLallo on Amazon. The shells will get filled if you toss them together with the filling, but the dish will end up more like ziti.