Spicy Kale Stuffed Shells

Kale stuffed shells

Not that rain has ever stopped us from grilling in the past, but last week, rather than grill while it rained, we decided to make pasta. I know that pasta is a little on the heavy side, and it has been warm here, but sometimes, pasta is just the perfect comfort food on a rainy day. As soon as I saw this recipe posted on Pink Parsley, I was intrigued by the use of cottage cheese instead of ricotta. Until making this dish, I had never had cottage cheese. Once, I accidentally bought it, thinking that it was yogurt. When I opened it up for lunch at work, I saw the curds, and thinking that it was just yogurt that had gone bad, I threw it out. It was only after I got home and looked for the date on the other "yogurt" in the fridge that I realized it was actually cottage cheese. I think I was so grossed out by that whole experience, that I let it sit in the fridge until it was way past the expiration date, then threw it away. Now that I have tried cottage cheese, however, I realize that I actually enjoy it! These shells were delicious! I cooked up an entire box of shells, and it ended up being way too much. Next time, I plan to double the filling so that I can make a double batch and freeze some for later!

8 ounces Jumbo Shells
3/4-1 pound Kale, washed, stems removed, and roughly chopped
2 cups Cottage Cheese, low-fat
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons Fresh Parsley or Basil, minced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
16 ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper 

Boil the shells according to package directions, then drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kale and a splash of water, stirring until the kale is wilted and softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the kale to a strainer, and set aside. Return the pan to the stove, add the oil, and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, wrap the kale in a lint free kitchen towel or paper towels and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Chop into small pieces and set aside. Strain the cottage cheese through a strainer, pressing to remove as much liquid as possible (mine didn't have much liquid to strain out of it). Transfer the strained cheese to a medium bowl and stir in 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup of the mozzarella, the herbs, and the kale. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper, to taste. To assemble the shells, spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a greased 9-inch pie plate or square baking dish. Use a spoon to fill each shell with the kale-cottage cheese mixture, then arrange them in a single layer in the dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the top, then sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and mozzarella. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes. Let stand for about 5-10 minutes before serving.