Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kale Stuffed Pasta Shells

Guilty pleasure time!!  As you may have noticed, many of my food blogs involve some type of pasta.  It is one of my most favorite things to cook and eat.  Italian food is always very pleasing to the eye, the nose, and the tummy. This particular recipe just sorta hit me one day, and I thought to myself, "Self, why did I not think of this sooner?"  And I had to share it with you.  This is my Kale Stuffed Shells (You are welcome!)

Kale Stuffed Shells

The star players of this recipe are kale, walnuts, marinara sauce, large pasta shells, a garlic clove, Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese

Matt calls this my flying saucer.  He can call it whatever he wants if it will make him eat some steamed veggies.  Its real name is a steamer basket, but shh!  Don't tell him that!  I placed a steamer basket in a large pot with about one inch of water at the bottom.  Turned the eye on high until the water is boiling.  If you do not have a steamer basket, do not fret!  Just fill up the pot halfway with water, bring it to a boil, and boil your kale for 2-3 minutes.  Then strain your kale.

Ahh... look at those amazing colors!  Kale has gotten a lot of buzz lately for being a "superfood."  What is a superfood you may ask?  A superfood is a nutrient rich food that is full of vitamins and minerals.  Kale is thought to have amazing anti-oxidant properties, can prevent some cancers, and promote urinary tract health.  Place your lid on the pot and let steam for 4-5 minutes until it becomes a darker color and has wilted.

...like this!

Add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1 cup of walnuts, 1 garlic clove, and 1/2 tsp of pepper to a food processor, fitted with the steel blade.

Blend everything together until it looks like this: kinda crumbly 

Add your kale and about 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  Congratulations!  You have just make kale pesto!  Yayyyy!  We could just boil some pasta, toss everything together, and call it a night.  But, lets not forget the carnivore that sniffs through my kitchen, asking, "where's the meat?"  

I browned one pound of Italian sausage

Add 16 oz of whole milk ricotta cheese to a medium size bowl

Add your kale pesto to the ricotta cheese

Drain your sausage, and add it to the ricotta-kale filling

Meanwhile, I have been cooking up some Jumbo shells

And choppin' some mozzarella.  We have all of our components.  Lets put everything together!

Drain your pasta shells.  I rinse my shells with cool water after I drain them to make them easier to handle.  When you let pasta cool in your strainer, you (maybe its just me) get these white patches  where the water droplets sat too long on your noodles.  I add a thin layer of marinara on the bottom of the pan to prevent the shells from sticking.  Next, I stuff the shells with the ricotta mixture. 

Add the remainder of your marinara sauce over the top of your shells

 The mozzarella is the crowning glory.  Cover everything with foil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.


There are no words

This would be a great recipe for entertaining!  It serves six people easily and if you add a salad and some french bread, it could feed more like eight people.

Matt and I both really enjoyed this dish.  He is not a big fan of kale, but had no idea it was in this recipe.  He actually said that these were the best stuffed shells he had ever had.  I hope you feel the same way!

1 lb of Italian sausage
1 jar of marinara sauce
1/2 box of large pasta shells
1 bunch of kale
16 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan
1/2 tsp pepper
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of whole milk mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Add water to a large pot until it is 1 inch deep.  Place your steamer basket into the pot.  Bring the water to a boil.  Remove the kale leaves from the stalks and rinse them to remove any grit.  Add the kale to your large pot, cover it with the lid, and cook for 4-5 minutes until it has wilted and turned a dark green.  Remove the kale, refill the pot with water and bring it to a boil for your pasta.  Cook the pasta shells as directed

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the Parmesan, walnuts, pepper, and garlic clove.  Blend until a crumbly consistency.  Add the steamed kale and the olive oil.  Process until smooth and everything is combined.

In a saute pan, brown 1 lb of Italian sausage.  Once the meat is fully cooked through and no longer pink, drain the sausage of the fat.  

In a medium bowl, add the ricotta cheese, Italian sausage, and the kale pesto.  Stir until combined.  

Take a 9x13 casserole dish and brush a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom.  Stuff your pasta shells with the ricotta cheese mixture and place in the casserole dish.  Add mozzarella to the top, and cover the dish with aluminum foil.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.