Baked Shells with Camembert, Cider-Braised Kale & Breadcrumbs

January 20, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4, generously
Author Notes

This dish emerged over the course of many months. It combines my love for a traditional Italian dish (Pasta con il Pangrattato), with my fondness for gooey French cheese and New England-inspired cider-braised greens. It’s slightly sweet, very rich and even a bit healthy (if you count the greens). It's perfect for a vegetarian dinner party but can be amped up a bit by adding some salty pancetta. —eatboutique

What You'll Need
  • Cider-Braised Kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped into large pieces, thick stems removed
  • 1.5 cups apple cider (a little more, as needed)
  • salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • For the Baked Pasta
  • 1 8-ounce wooden box of Camembert
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 5-6 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from the stems (extra for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 16-ounce box of medium 'conchiglioni' pasta shells
  • a handful of salt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  1. Make the Cider-Braised Kale: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet (that has a lid). Saute the onion until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and the kale, and toss with the onions. Pour in the cider and put the lid on the skillet. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the cider mostly evaporates and the kale is tender. (Add more cider if it evaporates before the kale is tender enough.) Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Remove the Camembert from its box. Remove and discard the wrapper. Place a large square of wax or parchment paper into the box, making sure it has a good portion of extra paper sitting over the edge of the compartment. Return the cheese to the box.
  4. Score a circle into the top/skin of the cheese, leaving a small border around the top edge, and discard that round of skin. Layer the garlic and thyme in the round opening. Add the olive oil and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. Place the box of cheese on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until golden and melted.
  5. Set a pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add a handful of salt. When the cheese has cooked for 15 minutes, add the pasta to the salted boiling water and cook according to your package’s directions. Drain the pasta and place it in a 9” x 12” casserole dish, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  6. To the pasta, add the kale, the Camembert, and the Parmesan cheese, and toss well until all the pasta is coated with Camembert and the kale is evenly distributed. Pour in the reserved pasta water. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top of the pasta. Drizzle a hefty dose of olive oil on top of the bread crumbs.
  7. Set your oven to broil and arrange the top rack to be 6 inches away from the heat. Place the casserole on that rack and broil for 5-10 minutes, just until the bread crumbs turn golden and a little crunchy.
  8. Serve a generous portion of the baked pasta in a bowl, topped with extra virgin olive oil and extra thyme leaves.
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Eat Boutique is the go-to resource for all things food gifts, including one-of-a-kind, small-batch products and inspirational articles and recipes.

4 Reviews

eatboutique January 28, 2010
Oh I meant to say - thanks Jennifer!!! :)
lastnightsdinner January 23, 2010
I love hearty greens with baked pasta - what a fun idea to combine them!
eatboutique January 21, 2010
It's super rich and my guests really liked it. I'm glad you'll try it. I have to say, it was an odd combo so wasn't sure it would work. But I was inspired by a friend who poured sweet liquor into Camembert... and the cider really is nice with it. Thanks for letting me know!
theicp January 21, 2010
I love kale and Camembert...not to mention this is a very interesting recipe. I'm having some friends over for dinner next Thursday night and was thinking about doing individual dishes of baked shells to start. Provided my guests don't mind camembert, I will definitely try this!