A recipe for Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells! Jumbo pasta shells are filled with a savory kale cheese mixture, then baked until golden and bubbly.
I first made these Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells as a way to use up a bunch of kale from my CSA box and they quickly became a hit with the family. They are especially perfect for incorporating some vegetables into dinner for the kids.
Diced onions, garlic, and kale are briefly cooked, then combined with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, parsley, and basil.
The mixture is used to fill each pasta shell, then arranged in a single layer in a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 centimeter) baking dish with tomato sauce.
Bake in a 350˚F (180˚C) oven for 25 minutes covered, then an additional 10-15 minutes uncovered until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Serve the Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells warm from the oven.
A Few Tips
Gently boil the jumbo shells just until barely tender and pliable, al dente. They will soften a little further as they bake in the oven.
You may not need the entire 12 ounces (340 grams) of jumbo shells. Having a couple extra is helpful in case one or two rip. Use the most intact shells to fill and arrange in the baking dish.
Remove the thick stems from the kale before finely chopping. Try to keep the pieces of onion, kale, parsley, and basil small to more easily blend into the cheese and transfer into the pasta.
Cook the kale just until tender and vibrant green. This shouldn’t take longer than a minute or two.
The kale can be swapped for spinach. Make sure to remove any excess moisture from the vegetables before adding to the cheese.
Adjust the seasonings to taste. If desired, add a large pinch or so of crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat.
There are a couple different ways to fill the shells. I personally prefer to transfer the kale cheese mixture to a piping bag with about a 1 inch (2.5 centimeter) hole to pipe into each shell. You can also use a spoon.
These stuffed shells can also be prepared up to a day ahead of time, covered, and refrigerated until ready to bake. Just add about 10 minutes to the baking time to make sure the filling is thoroughly heated.
Baked shells can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.
Looking for more recipes with kale?
- Farro Salad with Kale and Roasted Tomatoes
- Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup)
- Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes)
This recipe was originally posted in June 2013 and updated in April 2023.
Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe
Adapted from A Food Centric Life
Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) olive oil
- 1 medium onion peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 10 ounces (283 grams) kale about one bunch, stems discarded and leaves finely chopped
- 15 ounces (425 grams) ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces (227 grams) low moisture mozzarella cheese shredded, divided
- 2 ounces (57 grams) Parmesan grated, divided
- 1 large egg
- 0.7 ounce (20 grams) fresh parsley large handful, finely chopped
- 0.4 ounce (11 grams) fresh basil medium handful, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 12 ounces (340 grams) jumbo pasta shells
- 30 ounces (887 milliliters) tomato sauce
- In a large skillet, drizzle the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften.
- Stir in the garlic and cook until just fragrant, 30 seconds-1 minute. Stir in the kale and cook just until tender and vibrant green. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Squeeze out any excess moisture.
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 3/4 of the mozzarella, 3/4 of the Parmesan, egg, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper.
- Stir in the cooled kale mixture.
- Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Once boiling, add the shells and cool until barely tender, al dente. Gently drain and allow to cool just enough to handle.
- In a 9×13 inch (23 x 33 centimeter) baking dish, spread about 1 cup (240 milliliters) of the tomato sauce to cover the bottom.
- Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the kale mixture.
- Place the filled shells in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
- Spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the shells. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake for an addition 10-15 minutes, until golden and bubbly.
- Serve warm.