Recipe | Baby Bella and Kale Casserole

Baby Bella and Kale Casserole
I love stuffed shells. They were one of those recipes that was in frequent rotation in my house growing up and I still enjoy them today, even though I rarely make them. And on those occasions that I do make stuffed shells, I maximize the veggies and minimize the ricotta. Not only is this healthier, but it’s the only way my husband will eat them–that’s right, my husband hates ricotta cheese. How anyone can dislike the creamy goodness of ricotta, I will never understand.

This Baby Bella and Kale Casserole recipe is adapted from Everyday Food’s Chicken and Kale Casserole. The original recipe called for large shells, which was odd to me because they weren’t supposed to be stuffed. The first time I made this, I used the large shells and just tossing them in the casserole with the rest of the ingredients didn’t work out too well. When I tested the recipe again, I opted for the smaller pasta shells–success! The casserole was much easier to serve (and eat) that way. So think of this as deconstructed stuffed shells.

To make it somewhat appealing to my husband, I downsized the amount of ricotta. And because I’m trying to eat better, I substituted fat-free ricotta for part-skim–unlike with other cheeses, I really don’t think you can tell the difference with ricotta, especially in casseroles. Obviously, as vegetarians, the chicken was problematic too, so I used baby bella mushrooms instead. Finally, I changed the serving size from 8 to 4–you can always double the recipe if you’re feeding a crowd.

Baby Bella and Kale Casserole

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4

Baby Bella and Kale Casserole

A pasta bake casserole with kale, baby bella mushrooms, and ricotta cheese.

Ingredients

  • cooking spray or oil mister
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 6 oz. small pasta shells
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small bunch kale, tough stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1-15 oz. container fat-free ricotta
  • zest from 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 6 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and return to pot.
  3. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms; cook until onion and mushrooms are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add kale, cover and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to pot with pasta.
  4. Stir in ricotta, lemon zest, and 3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes.
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Kiersten Frase

About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and editor of Oh My Veggies. She loves cooking, trashy reality shows, and Hello Kitty. Kiersten also blogs about blogging at kierstenfrase.com.   Read more from Kiersten →

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Comments

  1. says

    I need to start trying more veggies! You had bella in your title and I could figure out what it was at first (I’m not a dummy really but not quite a foodie either). I tried kale one time but it didn’t turn out very well it was pretty bitter.

  2. says

    Thank you for this recipe! I had to use what was available at the store we shop at just to keep costs down, so we ended up with spinach (which boy, do I prefer raw – it got slimy, fast!) and bow tie pasta. I doubled it and served it for myself, my husband, a friend, and our kids. I loved it and we ended up having enough leftovers for lunch through out the week. Thank you!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Oddly enough, at the local grocery store here kale is cheaper than spinach. You can fill a big bag with it and it rarely ends up being more than a $1! This works well for me because like you, I’m not a big fan of cooked spinach. ;)

  3. Steph says

    I tried this today and was really impressed with the flavors, being that the bulk of this is veggies and skim ricotta! It made 5-6 servings for me and I used whole wheat shells too to up the health factor…thanks for introducing us to this recipe :)

  4. Jiwon says

    I made this for dinner tonight, and it was GREAT. The only things I did differently were using macaroni instead (shells would have been more fun!) and put in extra garlic. Definitely yielded more than 4 servings for me, which is fine because now I have a yummy meal for lunch this week! Thanks for a wonderful recipe :)

  5. Ilene says

    I’m going to try making this however since I’m vegan I’ll use tofu in place of the ricotta. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  6. Tara says

    I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! This is definitely going to be added as one of my “go to” meals. Thank you so much!

  7. Ilene says

    I made a vegan version of this yesterday and it came out great. For some reason I can’t find the link to the vegan recipe. It had tofu instead of the ricotta. Also, I used nutritional yeast instead of vegan parmesan.

  8. Caitlin says

    I always buy the pre-torn kale from TJ’s- would a half-bag be equal to a small bunch or should I throw in the entire thing? (the more kale the better!)

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I was out of town last week and I haven’t had the chance to catch up until now! I think half a bag would be perfect. Really, you don’t need to be too precise with a recipe like this. :)

  9. Mandy says

    I made this for dinner tonight. I used a whole box of whole wheat shells and added more butter to keep it moist. I also added a package of halved cherry tomatoes. It was super super tasty! Especially with the tomatoes. My kids scarfed this and there are plenty of leftovers. Plus it was super easy. I will definitely be making this again.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I haven’t tested this recipe with spinach, but it should work–I’d just make you drain any liquid from the veggies before adding the pasta since spinach tends to release more water than kale. And the rice pasta shouldn’t make a difference at all!

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