I don’t make much pasta at home. Not because we don’t enjoy it — we do. Maybe we enjoy it too much. My husband, Scott has tried to impose a moratorium on pasta, because if I make it, he’ll eat it, and he spends way too much time in the gym to undo his good works for a bowl of carbs. Emily, my daughter, feels exactly the opposite. She gravitates towards carbs and if I make them, she’s front and center to partake. So, these shells were for mostly for Emily… but I added vegetables to the blend (for Scott and me). It’s healthy-ish. Mushroom Kale Stuffed Shells.
I wasn’t trying to be sneaky with the kale here — I don’t have picky eaters who would harrumph at something green or vegetal on their plates. What I did have was a bunch of kale in the crisper and thought it would go well with the standard ricotta filling in my stuffed shells.
Oh, and the mushrooms? Well, come on — they’re mushrooms. Who doesn’t like mushrooms? They add a meaty quality to everything and when you’re making a vegetarian dish for meat eaters — you look for those opportunities when you can.
The key to adding the vegetables to the ricotta filling is draining them VERY WELL. If they’re the slightest bit wet, they’re going to loosen the filling and impact the overall dish. I squeeze the liquid out of the kale, then dab it and the mushrooms with paper towels to soak up any excess moisture before adding them to the cheese mixture.
I used medium-sized shells for this dish and they were perfect. I slightly undercooked the pasta about 1 minute before al-dente, because they would continue to cook in the oven. Drain the shells and rinse them with cool water to stop the cooking, then start assembling.
Spread a bit of marinara in the bottom of your dish, stuff the shells with a generous scoop of filling and place it on the marinara sauce. Continue in this manner until the dish is full. This makes a lot of shells, and I had enough for two extra small casseroles, which freeze beautifully.
I add a little more marinara to the shells (you could cover them with sauce if you like) to keep them moist when baking.
Bake the shells until the filling is hot and bubbly and serve with extra marinara and parmesan. It’s heaven — even Scott agreed! I gave Emily a frozen tray of these shells to take back to college for a little taste of home and she shared them with her roommate, Samantha, who isn’t crazy for kale… After one bite, she was hooked!
- 1 box shell pasta medium sized
- 32 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
- ½ cup water
- 1 large bunch kale tough stems removed, very finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 16 ounces mushrooms sliced
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ cup parsley chopped fresh
- 1 ½ cups Parmigiano Reggiano grated
- 4-5 cups marinara sauce
- Boil the pasta noodles according to package directions, but pull them off the heat about 1 minute before al-dente. Drain the noodles and rinse with very cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain the noodles and set aside.
- In a large saute pan over medium high heat add the olive oil and sliced mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms brown and give up most of their liquid. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl. Add the kale to the pan along with the water, bring the liquid to a boil and cover with a tight fitting lid. Steam the kale for 2-3 minutes until wilted, but still bright green. Transfer the kale to a fine mesh sieve and press on the kale with the back of a spoon to squeeze out all of the excess water and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1 cup parmesan cheese. With a paper towel, pat dry the mushrooms and make sure the kale is very dry as well. Add the mushrooms and kale to the ricotta mixture and stir completely to evenly distribute the vegetables throughout the ricotta.
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Spread half a cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking dish(es). Fill the shells with a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture and arrange in the baking dish. Fill in the gaps between the shells with a little extra marinara and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve with extra marinara and parmesan cheese.
Will be making this soon . Is frozen kale ok to use (squeeze out moisture).?
Sure. Definitely squeeze out the moisture!
Stacey Demrigian says
I love stuffed shells. these look amazing thanks for sharing
These didn’t last long here…
These shells look gorgeous, Lisa! I love that you added mushrooms in this dish!
Thank you for the compliment — they’re very tasty! We love mushrooms in this house – so you’ll find them appearing in many of my recipes!
Tina Dawson | Love is in my Tummy says
I just bought a pack of shells and was wondering what I should stuff them with! Thanks for the idea Lisa, this uses Kale and I LOVE it!
I hope you like it, Tina!
Gillian's Kitchen says
Hi Lisa, This recipe is right up my alley. I’ll be adding it to my Meat Free Monday repertoire for sure. Will pin it for later. 🙂
Glad you like it, Gillian! It’s perfect for a Meat Free Monday!
Oriana @Mommy's Home Cooking says
Yum! This is right up my alley! I love the idea of adding kale. Great way to trick my kids into eating more veggies. Pinned
My family loved this, and you really don’t even notice the kale — though there’s quite a bit in the filling.
Gloria Duggan says
It has been a long time since I have made stuffed shells. The presentation is always so awesome. This looks like the perfect weekend dish…and an glass of wine too.
Definitely with a glass of wine, Gloria! I probably should have put that in the instructions… LOL!
Wow, these shells look amazing! I love the ricotta, kale, and mushroom filling!
Glad you approve! It’s a tasty combo!
sue | theviewfromgreatisland says
Great minds think alike! I love this healthier version of my favorite comfort food ~ and the kale is an inspired choice, I’m going to steal that idea for sure!
I would say, it’s SLIGHTLY healthier….