I talked to a lot of people on the phone yesterday. Somehow, there was time between cleaning every square inch of every room as the movers were loading all the boxes. Who knew you could get a blister from vacuuming? Reason #42,518 I HATE CLEANING. People who like cleaning…I bet you like going to the dentist, too…huh? Whackjobs.
One of my phone conversations was with Kristen. She has big plans to visit the new pad on the days our belongings will be delivered. In a not-so-slick way she called to figure out if I will be cooking for her.
My answer was obviously yes, assuming of course that we are able to locate and unpack all my kitchen items. It will likely end up that Kristen will earn her supper. She has been warned and she still wants to come. Bless her heart.
Kristen went on to share that while she was hard at work, she was able to pin FIFTY possible recipes for us to make. 50! She goes into describing them all, I instantaneously growl with hunger, and then slip into a brief moment of depression as every drawer and cabinet in my house is barren. My pantry looks BIG when it’s empty!
I have no idea what we’ll make, but she tends to settle on all things pasta. I can’t blame her…what’s not to love about pasta? Well, wait. I can think of something. I can’t seem to find jumbo pasta shells in a whole wheat variety, but…that wasn’t going to hold me back from trying these.
It’s no secret that my love for quinoa had a rocky start. I wasn’t too keen on quinoa in the beginning, but I have come to find out that’s because of how I was preparing it. After this recipe (and one more – coming soon!), however, I can now say that kale and I can put our uncertain past behind us. We are bound for greatness now that we have an understanding.
Kale, for me, must be cooked.
Before you think, “Nicole, this was just one recipe…maybe you really do hate kale.” I’m going to tell you you’re wrong. This recipe has a TON of kale in it and I loved every last bite. I no longer feel like a disgrace to vitamin K and vegetarian iron. I can make, eat, and love kale for the first time ever and that is pretty thrilling given all the nutrition I was missing out on.
I know there have got to be some others out there that are on the fence about kale. I know there are a lot of kale LOVERS out there. I know there’s a lot of CSA boxes and farmer’s markets that are chock full of kale. And now, I offer you this recipe solution for all your kale needs. You’re welcome in advance!
8 oz jumbo shells
3/4-1 lb kale, washed, stems removed, and roughly chopped
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup (2 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
3/4 cup (3 oz) part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp basil, minced
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
16 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Fresh ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and lightly spray a 9 x 13-inch dish with olive oil.
Par-boil the shells according to the package directions, boiling about 9 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kale and a splash of water, stirring the kale until it’s wilted and softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the kale to a large bowl. Add the cottage cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Return the pan to the stove, add the oil, and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and stirring constantly, cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To assemble the shells, spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Use a spoon to fill each shell with the kale-cottage cheese mixture, then arrange in a single layer in the dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the pasta, then sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Bake, covered with foil, 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes or so. Let stand about 5-10 minutes before serving.
Yield: 28 shells (7 servings – 4 shells each).
Nutrition Information (per serving): 279 calories; 8.6 g. fat; 22 mg. cholesterol; 602 mg. sodium; 34.9 g. carbohydrate; 4.1 g. fiber; 17.9 g. protein
Result: These shells have a great texture and offer up lots of protein for a vegetarian meal with no meat substitute or beans! This is a great way to enjoy a pasta dish while still getting in tons of nutrition, fiber, and fiber without a boat load of carbohydrate. Tons of flavor and a hint of spicy…mmmm! Enjoy!
One of my other phone conversations was with my friend Mary. She said my house echoes it’s so empty!
Off for a run and coffee. Tonight, it’s saying farewell to Donna. I am gonna MISS her 🙁