Tonight is a rich, decadent treat at the house – stuffed shells! Its in honor of my in-laws who are spending the night as they make their way from Columbus, Ohio to India for a few weeks of vacation and visiting family. The recipe for stuffed shells is usually pretty standard, but I change it up by adding kale and roasted garlic for the filling.
I start by roasting garlic and cooking the kale for a few minutes. Like everyone else on the planet, I have become obsessed with kale and use it every chance I can get.
Then once I mix in the kale with the different cheeses including fresh mozzarella, I am ready to fill the shells.
Stuffing is probably the most time consuming part. But its worth it for the yummy goodness that awaits.
Once its all done, I top it off with my special tomato sauce and some fresh basil from my herb garden (I just started this herb garden, so not sure how successful I will be!)
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes
- 1 box of stuffed shells
- 1 bunch Kale (finely cut and ribbed)
- 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 egg beaten (optional)
- 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup of cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (you can add more if you like it hot)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- Cooking spray
- 2 cups of tomato sauce (see my sauce recipe below or sub for your own awesome tomato sauce recipe. A jar of your favorite sauce will also be just fine!)
- 2-3 leaves fresh Basil
- Cook the shells according to the package. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Get the kale ready by making sure there are no stems (that can make the kale really bitter) and massaging it with your hands for a few minutes. Add some honey to draw out the bitterness if you would like. Even though its going to be cooked and not served raw, this helps!
- Pour one tablespoon of olive oil into a sauce pan on low-medium heat. Add the cut garlic and roast until it turns golden brown (2 minutes tops).
- Add the kale and let it cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, take off the heat just as its about to wilt.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese along with the egg and the cooked kale and garlic. Also add the two teaspoons of water to help with combining.
- Mix in the seasonings of black pepper, chili pepper flakes, salt, paprika and oregano.
- Spray the bottom of a 13X9 inch pan with cooking spray and pour a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan.
- Fill each of the stuffed shells with the kale/cheese mixture (about a tablespoon of mixture into each shell) and place in the pan, keeping the pieces close together.
- Pour tomato sauce on top (as saucy as you want it!)
- Mix together the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese with basil (fresh if you have it) and sprinkle on top.
- Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until cheese is bubbly and slightly golden. Ready to serve!
My tomato sauce:
I love, love, love pasta and tomato sauce. I try all different jar brands when I am in a pinch (I am no stranger to Ragu, honestly!) and have tried perfecting my own version over the years. Its ever evolving, but I am pretty happy with this version.
I start by cutting up all the vegetables that I need for the base of the sauce.
Then I add the sauce and vegetable broth and let it simmer.
My last step is to add a tiny bit of cream and some sriracha for a kick.
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 40 minutes
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 of a large onion (whichever type you like) or 1 whole small one, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of salt (I use sea salt, but use whatever you like)
- 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 2 cans of tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon light cream (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of sriracha sauce to add a kick (optional)
- Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into saucepan on medium heat
- Throw in onions and garlic and saute (2 minutes or so)
- Add in the carrot and bell pepper and continue to saute, season with salt, pepper, oregano (3 or 4 more minutes)
- Pour in the tomato sauce, vegetable broth and add the two teaspoons of sugar
- Add the basil and simmer on low heat for about 30-40 minutes until sauce is thick
- Optional: Add light cream and sriracha and cook for another 5 minutes