Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells

makes 8-10 servings (about 36 shells)

  • 1  12 oz. box jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Italian sausages, removed from their casing
  • 1 heavy pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1lb. ricotta cheese
  • 1  large egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 6-7 cups marinara
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375F

In a medium non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add Italian sausage and a heavy pinch of red pepper flakes and cook sausage, breaking up into small bits with a wooden spoon, about 4-5 minutes. Add chopped onion and sauté with the sausage until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Follow with the chopped kale and continue to cook until kale softens, another 3-4 minutes.  Add in minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, making sure not to brown garlic. Turn off heat and let sausage & kale mixture cool. When cool enough to handle, place the sausage & kale mixture on a cutting board and roughly chop for filling.

In a large bowl transfer sausage & kale mixture and stir in ricotta, egg, oregano, basil, Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley. Season with freshly cracked pepper and a pinch of kosher salt and stir evenly to combine.

Cook jumbo shells in a large pot of boiling water according to instructions. Drain noodles, and lay shells on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Set aside to cool.

Line the bottom of a 13 x9 baking dish with 2-3 cups marinara. To stuff shells, fill each shell with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sausage kale mixture.  Layer shells in the prepared baking dish. When all shells are stuffed, pour remaining marinara on top, making sure to cover each shell. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella, cover baking dish with aluminum foil and transfer baking dish to an oven to bake for 30 minutes. Take off aluminum foil and cook for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is lightly browned and sauce is bubbling.

If baking from the freezer, cook for 45-50 minutes at 375F.