This is what we ate for dinner tonight. As usual I had no clear idea what I was doing until I started cooking, but I’m quite pleased with the results. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be adding it to my mental Rolodex. It’s incredibly vitamin and fiber-rich, which makes me feel better about eating all the cheese and pasta! I’ve snuck a ton of kale into the filling and pureed sweet potatoes into the sauce, so it’s kinda got everything you’d want from a meal right in one casserole dish. The addition of orange zest and sage make it incredibly complex and exciting. Enjoy!
For the Filling:
-Remove the stems from 1 lb. of fresh kale and wash thoroughly. Dry the leaves and set aside.
-In a large skillet, saute 1/2 a large onion, minced in olive oil, until translucent.
-Add 8 oz of cremini mushrooms, (1 package) that you’ve minced. Season with cracked black pepper.
-Once mushrooms are browned and given off their liquid, season with salt.
-Chop your washed kale leaves and add to the pan in batches.
-Season with more S&P to taste once the kale has wilted and turned a deep green color.
-Grate in 3 cloves of garlic and toss. Turn off heat.
-Place the veggies in a large bowl and allow to cool before adding in freshly grated nutmeg, the zest of 1 large orange and a handful of fresh sage leaves that you’ve minced.
-Add to this 1 15oz container of Ricotta Cheese, (low fat is always OK). Stir to combine.
(Reserve sage stems and a 2 inch piece of orange peel for later). Set this aside while you make the sweet potato cream and boil your pasta water-
For the Sweet Potato Cream:
-Microwave 1 large sweet potato until tender (I’m sure you know to poke it with a fork first…)
– Allow to cool enough to handle and remove the skin. Place the flesh into a clean bowl. Mash with a fork.
-In a medium saucepan bring 2 1/2 cups of milk or cream* to an almost simmer with the reserved orange peel and sage stems, a pinch of salt and 1 TB of sugar.
-Turn the heat down to low and allow to steep for several minutes before pouring it over your mashed sweet potato.
-Stir until it becomes the consistency of cream soup (you may need to use your immersion blender if it’s too chunky.) Set aside.
For the Pasta/Assembly:
-Boil 1 lb. of large pasta shells in heavily salted water. Cook til al dente, or just before and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
-Return to pot with the heat turned off and add in your kale mixture and the reserved pasta water. Toss to combine and place in a large, greased casserole dish.
-Pour the sweet potato cream over top, making sure everything is evenly distributed.
-Top with about 1 cup of grated Mozzarella Cheese.
-Top with another cup or so of grated Parm or Romano cheese.
-Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 30min or until the cheese is bubbly and the edges begin to brown.
(*note-I always cook with evaporated milk that I keep on hand in the pantry)
Food + Wine