Asparagus + Kale Stuffed Shells

I'm going to let the photos do most of the talking today.


I'm just sitting here with my mom trying to soak in every last minute she's in Colorado.  I feel so fortunate to have had her here for an entire week and my dad + brother over the weekend.  However, it always goes by way too fast.  

Last night, we shared this comforting spring meal and it truly hit the spot.  Instead of stuffing the shells purely with ricotta, I filled them up with asparagus + kale for added texture and veggie-love.  It's a nice way to make stuffed shells a bit more interesting.  I also whipped up a double batch of my homemade red sauce, and while the shells were baking I made my favorite lemon basil pesto sauce from the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook.  Seriously addicting stuff.  And if you're questioning the use of pesto on top of marinara, let me just tell you, you must give it a try.  A favorite combination in this house and a cinch to throw together.

This weekend sounds like the perfect time to enjoy a homecooked meal.  Don't you think?

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Asparagus + Kale Stuffed Shells gluten-free // yields 6-8 servings

adapted from: spaghetti squash stuffed shells

  • 1 box gluten-free jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 1/3 cup full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon ghee/oil 
  • 2 cups finely chopped lacinato/dino kale, lightly packed
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped asparagus, 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder granules
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt + black pepper
  • ~8oz fresh mozzerela, cubed
  • ~48oz thick marinara sauce
  • pesto, optional
  1. Add ghee or oil to a large pan over medium heat.  
  2. Once hot add the asparagus and cook for about 3-4 minutes stirring frequently.  Stir in the kale for 30 seconds, until just wilted. 
  3. Pour out onto a large plate and let cool.  You can speed this up in the fridge if needed.
  4. Cook your pasta shells al dente, according to package directions.  Rinse with cold water to help prevent sticking.  *Make sure not to overcook because they will cook a bit more in the oven. 
  5. Mix the ricotta, kale, asparagus, parmesan, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper until combined.  Start with 1/4t salt + pepper.  Taste, then add more if needed.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350* and take out a 9x13 pan and a 9x9 pan, or a variety of single serving oven-safe bowls.
  7. Pour out just enough sauce to coat the bottom of each pan.
  8. Gently fill each shell until the mixture is flush with the bottom. ~30-32 shells  The amount may vary depending on what brand you use.  I used Tinkyada, which are the only GF shells I can find. 
  9. Place the shells stuffed side down in the pan so that they are slightly touching one another.
  10. Coat the top of each shell with a scoop of sauce.
  11. Place mozzarella [about 1/2-inch cubes] around the shells.
  12. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 15min.  Uncover and bake for another 15min.
  13. Turn your broiler on low, move pans to the top rack and broil for 3-5 minutes watching closely until the cheese is bubbly.
  14. Garnish with fresh pesto, basil, or parsley if desired and serve hot.

notes:  Make sure to use a thick pasta sauce to avoid excess liquid in the pan.  I made a double batch of my favorite red sauce recipe cooked it for about an hour and then blended it with my immersion blender and let it simmer a bit longer until thick.  This meal can be prepped ahead and stored in the fridge for 2-6 hours before cooking.  You may need to add a bit more sauce before baking, as it will soak into the noodles.

As a side note, I'm sure you can easily make this recipe vegan using tofu.  Check out this recipe [I've used before to make vegan lasagna--so good] as a guide! 

If you're looking for Mother's Day breakfast/brunch/dessert ideas, head on over to my Mother's Day photo album with recipe links on Facebook!  I've featured 12 recipes that are sure to please your mama's [or grandma, friend, dad, sister, wife, husband, child, etc.] tastebuds!

Happy weekend!