Home ยป Spicy Kale-Stuffed Shells

Spicy Kale-Stuffed Shells


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!



Spicy Kale-Stuffed Shells adapted from A Couple Cooks by Pink Parsley

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
Kosher salt
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 🙁

Be well,

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  1. Erica { EricaDHouse.com }
    June 21, 2012 / 6:24 am

    I think I just spotted the most epic spelling error ever {hint: it’s in italics!}

    • Nicole, RD
      June 21, 2012 / 6:46 am

      Bahahahaha! OMGGGG. I’m so glad you caught that! I swear I edit ๐Ÿ™‚ Too, too funny!!!

      • Erica @ EricaDHouse.com
        June 21, 2012 / 8:36 am

        Lol that absolutely started my morning off well! I usually give my posts a quick once over before I publish but often find mistakes later!

  2. Lena
    June 21, 2012 / 6:39 am

    That looks amazing!

  3. Alida
    June 21, 2012 / 6:53 am

    These look so good! A tasty way to sneak in some kale….I like it!

  4. Debra
    June 21, 2012 / 7:38 am

    I have a hard time with quinoa too, I keep trying but that mealy texture just doesn’t do it for me.
    These look yummy – could you sub swiss chard for the kale do you think ?

    • Nicole, RD
      June 21, 2012 / 10:04 am

      Hey Debra! Absolutely!!

  5. The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh
    June 21, 2012 / 8:21 am

    I’ve lamented over not being able to find whole wheat shells as well for my Spicy Mexican Stuffed Shells. It’s like once you start being more mindful of your eating you twitch a little when you’re forced to use white pasta! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. MissMessy
    June 21, 2012 / 8:28 am

    Yummm. I need these for my dinner tonight. Now just to find some Kale!

  7. Krissy@DaintyChef
    June 21, 2012 / 8:29 am

    We loved the lasagna when we had it, I bet the shells are just as good.

  8. Ammie
    June 21, 2012 / 8:34 am

    I’m with you in terms of kale must be cooked, and by cooked I don’t mean anything resembling a kale chip (blech)! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Meg
    June 21, 2012 / 8:58 am

    Looks delicious — and great timing! I was planning on doing a baked shell dish this weekend (after the sweltering heat breaks and I can turn on my oven!), and adding kale looks like a great idea. Yum! This is going on my Pinterst board, too.

  10. Eva @ Eva Bakes
    June 21, 2012 / 10:08 am

    This looks great! If we get some more kale in our CSA box, I’ll need to make this!

  11. Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life
    June 21, 2012 / 10:25 am

    OMG that looks so good! I’m with you – I HATE cleaning too!

  12. Biz
    June 21, 2012 / 10:34 am

    Alright, I may have to give kale another go with this recipe – I tried kale chips one time and almost threw up in my mouth a bit! ๐Ÿ˜€

    If my daughter lived near you she’d be happy to come over and help you clean! ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Amy Ramos
    June 21, 2012 / 11:43 am

    Those shells are the bomb. I made those a few months ago and hubby gobbled them up. I might have to make them again.

  14. Kristen (swanky dietitian)
    June 21, 2012 / 11:58 am

    I really need to give kale another chance. This looks like a good recipe to start with!
    And yes, who are these people who like cleaning??? Now, organizing I do enjoy..but that definitely isn’t the same. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Amy B @ Second City Randomness
    June 21, 2012 / 12:51 pm

    I laughed a little at your friend’s knack of pinning. I have so many recipes saved on Pinterest. Yet so little time… Sigh… I don’t even know where to begin to tackle them all.

  16. ATasteOfMadness
    June 21, 2012 / 5:22 pm

    What a delicious looking meal! I have never tried stuffed shells. I have no excuse now!

  17. Joanne
    June 21, 2012 / 6:25 pm

    If I were you, I’d be ordering sushi after you move…but that’s just me. ๐Ÿ˜› I can see why pasta would be a close second though. Especially this. SWOON.

  18. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen
    June 21, 2012 / 7:20 pm

    I hear you about the cleaning, I like things to be clean but I’d rather not do the cleaning. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. Kate
    June 21, 2012 / 9:49 pm

    Warning, you can get a blister doing a lot of cleaning activity. That’s why I avoid cleaning at all costs.

  20. Dianne
    June 22, 2012 / 7:53 am

    I know today is closing day (22nd) on the new house, so I’m sending best wishes on your new home. I hope you post some pictures. Also the best of luck with your new job, sounds very challenging. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am definitely going to try this recipe.

  21. Nicole Olson
    June 22, 2012 / 10:58 am

    Love this recipe! I LOVE LOVE LOVE kale! One of my clients turned me onto it and I just cannot get enough! I’ll be making this one sometime this weekend! Thanks! P.s. hope everything is going extremely well with the move and all to come.

  22. Josie
    June 22, 2012 / 3:13 pm

    Yay for loving kale! I’m slowly but surely converting my husband from a kale-hater to a kale-lover. spicy tomato sauce, pasta, and lots of cheese helps ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Pingback: Weekly Meal Plan -Week of June 24th - Inner Circle Chic

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