Dinner

By Allana Mortell | March 8, 2012

Photo: Allana Mortell

Having a child who despises vegetables and prefers sweet and salty over nutritious and delicious could be considered a parents worst nightmare.  With that said, it’s always a fun treat to stumble upon a dish that combines the best of both. Stuffed pasta shells are like ravioli, but so much better.  The advantage of this dish is that you can combine more than one ingredient (hello, vegetables!) into the inside of the shell, resulting in a flavor-packed and health-conscious dish.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family and simply put, one of the healthiest vegetables around. It’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients are beneficial to your health in more ways than one and also helps in an individual’s detox process, regulating the detox activity in cells.  The antioxidants in spinach are proven to help with one’s vision, skin tone and additionally, help lower blood pressure. Combine these two vegetables with the perfect pairing of cheese and tomato sauce and you have a winning dish, even your kids will love.

By using part-skim and low-fat mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, you are ensuring your body at least 22% of your daily calcium value without compromising the overall taste. Once the shells are prepared and ready to be baked off, feel free to reward yourself for preparing a meal that is healthy, flavorful and surely something you, along with those picky children, will certainly adore.

Stuffed Shells with Ricotta, Spinach and Kale Recipe

Servings: 4
Calories: 580 per serving
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 box jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 pound shredded low-fat, part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 6-7 oz. bunch organic kale, center ribs trimmed out
  • 1 10oz package, frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry & chopped
  • 1 28 oz. jar tomato sauce(or homemade sauce )
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg
  • parsley, all to taste

Directions

1. Prepare the kale by cutting out the center ribs, cooking the leaves briefly in boiled, salted water (a process also known as blanching) for about three minutes. Then, to stop the cooking process, dunk the leaves into a bowl of ice water. Drain the kale leaves well either gently with a paper towel or salad spinner, if you have one. Then, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, saute the chopped spinach and kale with onions and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ricotta, parmesan cheese, egg yolk, and nutmeg. Take the spinach and kale mixture off the heat and add to the bowl.

4. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, evenly spread a small layer of tomato sauce over the bottom of the pan. Then, par-boil the shells (cook the shells in boiling, salted water but remove before they are fully cooked through) and stuff them to your liking with the mixture. Layer the shells evenly throughout the baking dish and pour another layer of sauce over the shells. Bake at 350 degrees, covered for 45 minutes.

5. Top with 1-cup mozzarella cheese and some sprinklings of parsley. Bake for a final five minutes and then let stand for 15 before eating. Enjoy.

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