Thursday, December 29, 2011

Turkey & Kale Stuffed Shells

This little guy {yes, it's officially a boy!}above wishes you all a belated Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy New Year, and everything in between.  After all, we've been absent lately....again.  Seems to be a recurring theme here.  But there has been a whole lot of cooking going on, I promise.  I wish I could have snapped pics of the coffee-rubbed roasted pork butt we did a few weeks back.  To die for.  And the homemade chicken noodle soup, the wheat berry salad with zucchini and tomato, the marinara sauce with a bacon base {Holy Cow!!!}.  Or the Spritz cookies and soft, chewy ginger cookies that all disappeared way too quickly than they should have.  It's been happenin' in the kitchen this month!  But I have no pics to prove it.  Sorry for the taunting.

So, that leads me to today's recipe, one that I did have time to snap - turkey and kale stuffed shells.  This was beyond easy and super healthy.  These are definitely going on the dinner rotation in this house.

Kale is, by far, one of the best green veggies you can eat.  It's full of vitamins and minerals, and has one of the highest antioxidant levels - a perfect cancer fighter.  We need all the nutrition we can get these days so there was no doubt that I was adding a healthy dose of kale to this dish {it's also a good way to hide it - in case you have kids or significant others that can't stand the thought of eating it alone}.  Instead of using ground beef I swapped it out for ground turkey and called it a day.  There are a ton of different ways you can tweak this to your own tastes - go all veg and leave out the meat, or use beef or spicy italian sausage instead of turkey.  Your call.

Another thing I did to make this easy?  I used my favorite jarred pasta sauce - Mezzetta Homemade Marinara.  In my opinion, it's the closest thing to the real deal, and there's nothing funny in it - just straight tomatoes, garlic, and red wine.  If you have homemade sauce on hand, go ahead and use it.  The best part about this dish, though, is that it can be made ahead of time and cooked when you're ready.  And - it makes excellent leftovers.

2011 is soon coming to a close - and my blog is going to be turning 1!  I may have a little something sweet planned.  We have goals to establish for the year ahead, and I'm tickled pink {or blue, I guess} with all the change that's about to take place here at the humble abode.  But I'm wishing you health, happiness, and amazingly good food in the coming year.  Love generously, praise loudly, and live fully.  Happy New Year!
Turkey & Kale Stuffed Shells
Recipe by A Toast to Taste
Photos by A Toast to Taste
Ingredients Needed:
1 lb kale, prepared like this
18 jumbo pasta shells
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb ground turkey
15oz part skim Ricotta cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 large egg
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp dried Italian Seasoning
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 jar of your favorite jarred marinara sauce {or use homemade}
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1.  Cook the shells, kale, and turkey mixture.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add salt and cook shells according to directions on the package.  Drain and remove to a clean kitchen towel to dry and cool.  Prepare the kale according to the link I've provided.  It's my favorite way to prepare kale and adds a little zip to the dish.  Set aside to cool.  In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic, stir and cook for about 30 seconds.  Place ground turkey in pan with onion and garlic.  Stirring frequently, brown turkey until there is no more pink color to the meat.  Remove from heat and set aside.  I combined the kale and turkey at this point.  You can keep them separate if you desire.

2.  Make the filling.  In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, egg, herbs, and spices.  Add the kale and turkey mixtures.  Stir until smooth.

3.  Fill and bake.  Place about 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Place about 2 Tbsp of the filling into each shell.  You want them full - not bursting.  Place stuffed shells on top of sauce.  Top the shells with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.  Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes {depending on your oven}.  During the last 10 minutes, remove the foil and brown cheese on top.  Serve and Enjoy!