Cheesy Stuffed Shells With Kale Pesto

December 13, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 6
What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Cheesy Stuffed Shells With Kale Pesto
  • Sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 ounces dinosaur kale, stemmed and roughly torn
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • Shells & Garnish
  • 12 ounces jumbo shells
  • 1 pound fresh whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus 1/2 cup (2 ounces) more for garnish
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Set a large pot of salted water to boil.
  2. Add the kale to the water and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set onto a clean dish towel. Let cool slightly then wring out any excess water. Keep the water boiling.
  3. Toss the kale into a blender. Add the garlic, oil, cheese, and handful of basil. Blend until smooth, adding a bit of the boiling water as necessary to make a smooth sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (A little pinch of pepper flakes would be nice too.) Transfer to a bowl, stir in the beans, and reserve.
  4. Drop the shells into the water and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  5. To prepare the filling, mix together the ricotta, parmigiano, egg yolk, and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce and half of the kale sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  7. Fill each of the shells with a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture and set into the pan. (I like to use a pastry bag to make the job super easy and fast.) Some of the shells break in the cooking process so you may have a few extra. Save them for another day. Or a snack.
  8. Dollop the remaining bean mixture over the filled shells. Top evenly with the remaining tomato sauce and kale sauce. Top with the mozzarella and grated parmigiano. Cover with foil and bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is beginning to bubble, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and broil for a few minutes until the cheese is golden.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Gloria
  • ckeesh

2 Reviews

Gloria January 15, 2022
Loved this recipe and the video instructions. Grocery store ran out of basil so I substituted with parsley and it was delish! I used the entire egg for the ricotta mixture -- didn't want to waste the whites and tasted just fine to me. Used a whole box of shells and made enough for 2 dinner baking bans so will bake the second another day. Appreciated how the dish is a little healthier with the beans and kale!
ckeesh January 2, 2022
I followed the recipe as written, with the exception of the stuffed shells part. I couldn't find large shells, so I used medium shells and just mixed the cooked pasta around with the ricotta mixture. It came out to be very tasty, I'll definitely be making this again!