Sweet Potato and Kale Stuffed Shells

Cheesy pasta recipe … edition 10,000! That number may be a slight exaggeration, but still. I just can’t help myself. I’ve been waiting patiently (<— not so much) for an acceptable amount of time to pass since the super fun lasagna from back in December. And I’ve decided that today’s the day. It’s time to share these sweet potato and kale stuffed shells!

Flavorful, cheesy sweet potato and kale stuffed shells - a great make-ahead recipe! Filled with sweet potato, kale and red pepper!

Apparently a little over one month is my limit.

As you may already be able to tell, I have become utterly and completely obsessed with using sweet potato puree in pasta dishes. Especially ones that typically use ricotta cheese. For quite some time now, I’ve been subbing in the puree for a portion of the ricotta … and I tell you, it’s just magical. A little more veggie goodness and this awesome extra layer of flavor. Positive vibes all around!

And for today’s dish we are doing just that once again. Plus adding in plenty of kale for some green and some diced red pepper, well, just because I like red bell pepper.

The creamy, dreamy filling gets scooped into some jumbo pasta shells and off the dish goes to bake in the oven to get all bubbly and cheesy and fantastic.

Flavorful, cheesy sweet potato and kale stuffed shells - a great make-ahead recipe! Filled with sweet potato, kale and red pepper!

And now, some fun tidbits I want to cover about this recipe…

Tips & Tricks for Sweet Potato and Kale Stuffed Shells!

– These shells are a great make-ahead dish! Assemble the dish completely then cover with aluminum foil as directed. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy. I like to take the dish out and give it plenty of time to come back to room temp before baking (this way you don’t have to allow extra time in the oven to get it heated all the way through).

– When cooking the jumbo pasta shells, add a few extra to the water. This way you have extra in case any break when you are stuffing them with the filling.

– And about that filling. This is a recent light bulb moment on my part … use a small cookie scoop to fill the shells! It makes it so easy and you’ll get an equal amount in all of the shells.

Flavorful, cheesy sweet potato and kale stuffed shells - a great make-ahead recipe! Filled with sweet potato, kale and red pepper!

Cheesy pasta … it’s just the best. Oh yes indeed!

Yield: about 6 servings

Sweet Potato and Kale Stuffed Shells

Prep Time:25 minutes

Cook Time:1 hour

Total Time:1 hour 25 minutes

Flavorful, cheesy sweet potato and kale stuffed shells – a great make-ahead recipe! Filled with sweet potato, kale and red pepper!

Ingredients:

  • 24 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale (9 to 10 ounces), stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 ¼ cups ricotta cheese, strained if watery
  • ¾ cup sweet potato puree (homemade or store-bought)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onions, plus extra for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 25 ounces marinara sauce, divided
  • about 2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta shells until al dente, according to the package directions (err on the side of undercooked – you do not want to overcook these). Drain then rinse well with cold water.
  3. Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add in the pepper and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add in the kale and vegetable broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the kale has wilted down and the broth has evaporated. Remove from the heat and add to a large bowl.
  4. Add the ricotta, sweet potato puree, green onions, salt and pepper to the bowl and mix until combined. Taste and season with additional salt / pepper if needed. Mix in the egg (the mixture will be on the wet side).
  5. Spread about 1 ½ cups of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Scoop an equal amount of the filling into each of the cooked pasta shells, working carefully so they don’t tear. Place the filled shells in the prepared baking dish in a single layer. Pour the remaining marinara sauce evenly over the top, then sprinkle with the cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Let stand for about 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish with additional sliced green onions and serve!

One of the times I made this recipe, I used some regular mozzarella and some smoked mozzarella for the cheese. It’s completely delicious that way too!

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