Turkey Sausage, Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

As many of you may already be aware, one of the newest “superfood” trends is kale.  High in fiber and contains the power to help fight fat, it is a major player in the battle against cancer, heart disease and other chronic health ailments.  These known facts alone have made me want to eat more kale.  I could go on and on about the health benefits of eating kale but trust me…..it’s REALLY good for you!

Now the tricky part, trying to eat more of the rough, leafy green without getting sick of it.  I can’t even count how many times I blanched and sauteed the stuff as a side dish, still having to choke it down.  I’ve added it to soup almost every time I’ve made soup and, at the request of my husband, have stopped temporarily.  It’s not really great in a salad since it is very bitter and tough to swallow when raw.

So, what else could I do?

I never made stuffed shells before and always wanted to try.  I saw a recipe for spinach and ricotta stuffed shells and thought….”Hey, KALE!”  And so, I went for it….and they were pretty, darn tasty!

I made my own marinara sauce but you could use a low sodium sauce in a pinch.

Marinara Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 whole onion, diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of dry red wine

1 32 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

1 32 ounce can of pureed tomatoes

Saute the diced onion in the olive oil in a large dutch oven over med/high heat until translucent.  Add the garlic and saute for about a minute, add the red wine and let it cook down for approximately 5 minutes.  Add both cans of tomatoes and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or 3 hours…..whatever works for you.  The longer you let it simmer the more concenrated the flavors will be.

This is what it looked like after the wine cooked down and I added the crushed tomatoes.

Turkey Sausage Stuffed Shells

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 links of turkey sausage with the casing removed

4 cups of chopped kale with the stems removed

3 cloves of garlic, minced (I LOVE Garlic!)

1 1/4 cups of fresh ricotta cheese

1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 a box of cooked jumbo shells (cook according to the package directions)

Saute the turkey sausage in the olive oil and break up into small pieces.

Add the kale to the pan and saute with the sausage until the kale is wilted.  After the kale has wilted add the garlic and saute for one minute.

Let the mixture cool and then mix, in a mixing bowl, the sausage/kale mixture with the ricotta cheese.  Add 1/2 a cup of mozzarella cheese, oregano, salt and pepper to the cheese mixture.

Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of your baking dish.

Stuff the shells with the cheese mixture and arrange in the baking dish on top of the sauce. 

Top the shells with more marinara sauce and the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the top is brown and bubbly.  (Confession….I may have added more cheese to the top than I specified in the recipe.) Enjoy!

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