About a month ago, I decided to become a “part-time” vegetarian. And all I mean by that is instead of eating meat with just about every meal, I’ve made a conscious effort to cook it only 2-3 meals a week. Three meals a week might seem like a lot but we were eating it pretty often. Whether it was bacon with breakfast, turkey on a sandwich at lunch or a slice of chicken or fish with dinner, meat proteins were definitely a huge part of our diet.
Initially I was worried that it was going to be really difficult to 1) come up with enough satisfying meals that didn’t involve meat and 2) get my husband on board. I’m happy to report that neither were a problem. All of a sudden the veggies are becoming my main focus and we’re eating more than we ever have before. My husband doesn’t miss the heavy meals and we’re both feeling totally satisfied after dinner.
It’s been a smooth transition thanks to meals like this one. These stuffed shells were satisfying and left us full without feeling to heavy or weighed down. The otherwise traditional ricotta filling gets some extra love from an eggplant that I roasted and added to the food processor along with an egg, basil and some parmesan cheese.
Initially I was just going to saute some kale to stir in but ultimately decided to add some broccoli and onion as well. It was the right choice in the end because the little shells were overflowing with flavor and lots of hearty greens.
I made the shells earlier in the day while the kids were in school and then just before dinner, I topped them with some homemade marinara that I canned last summer and a good handful of mozzarella cheese. 30 minutes in the oven and dinner was done. You can’t beat that on a busy weeknight.
I served the shells with a green salad and garlic bread. With a hefty glass of red wine, I was a happy camper. The kids, on the other hand, weren’t so keen on them. My husband was quick to fry up some bacon and heat some frozen pancakes for the little ones. As soon as he sat down at the table I knew why he was being so helpful. Somehow my husbands shells came to the table sprinkled with bacon bits……..
Stuffed Shells with Eggplant, Ricotta & Greens
- 24 shells, cooked al dente
- 1 medium sized eggplant
- 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small head kale, stemmed and washed
- 1 heaping cup chopped broccoli
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 6 basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 cups marinara
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Heat the oven to 375F degrees. Cut the eggplant in half length wise and brush the flesh with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes until flesh is soft. Remove eggplant from the oven and let cool. Remove skin from flesh and dice the eggplant into 1-inch cubes.
In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoon olive oil. Saute onion for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add kale and broccoli and saute another 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute one minute. Remove vegetables from heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, in the base of a food processor, add ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan cheese, basil leaves, salt, pepper, and reserved eggplant. Pulse until mixture is smooth and fully incorporated. Transfer mixture to a medium size bowl and stir in reserved vegetables.
Divide the filling among the al dente shells and set each shell into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Cover the shells with the marinara and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover the dish and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the shells and, if desired, broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese. Remove from oven and serve.
*After boiling the shells, drain and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and line on a cookie sheet covered with a damp paper towel to prevent from the pasta from sticking and drying out.