Winter Greens (Part 1)- Kale, Collard Green and Chard Stuffed Shells

Winter greens have proven to be far more versatile than I originally imagined. Prior to my CSA committment I never bought anything outside of spinach unless it was required for a recipe. I certainly couldn’t distinguish the differences between kale or chard and collard greens, let alone identify which was which. Since they come almost weekly in my winter CSA basket, I’ve had plenty of time to experiment and have really grown to love all these items.

 In fact, when my CSA friend texted me a photo of red kale last week and asked me what it was, she mentioned her husband saying it looks like it was something they could use to clean a toliet bowl. Fair enough, it does look a little like a green toliet brush. And, heaven forbid don’t eat these things raw! Tough, chewy and really kinda well, let’s just say some items are destined to be cooked and “complimented” with others.

 So, would you believe I can get my children to eat an item that looks like a green toliet brush?  The most shocking thing is that I can hide them in these recipes and my children will eat them (gasp!). Nothing short of a miracle in this house. In this 3 part series are my favorite ways to use Kale, Collard Green and Chard. Please note that because I never receive the same rotation of items you can easily swap out, double up or even substitute any of these winter greens in these recipes.

Kale, Collard Greens and Chard Stuffed Shells

12 Jumbo Shells

1 tub of ricotta

4 oz of either cream cheese or goat cheese, at room temperature

2 bunches of dark winter greens (about 6 ounces) washed, stems removed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

 1 jar of Marinara Sauce

1 package of uncooked italian sausage (omit for vegetarian)

Salt, Pepper to taste

In the morning if I have time I usually boil the jumbo shells according to box directions, drain and cool them and put them in a bag in the fridge. This could also be done the night before. That way, at dinner time you have one less step. Meanwhile, wash and dry winter greens, removing the tough stems. Chop into smaller pieces. In a nonstick pan on medium heat, add a little olive oil and cook the winter greens with 2 cloves of minced garlic for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium low and cook until soft. When finished, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat one egg and add in 1 tub ricotta and 4 oz cream or goat cheese and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg. Mix the cooled winter greens with the cheese (cool greens enough so that the egg in the mixture doesn’t scramble).

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a 13×9 dish, cover the bottom with half of the marinara sauce. Stuff the jumbo shells with the cheese and greens mixture. Back in the nonstick pan, remove casings from sausages and crumble. Cook over medium heat until browned. Top shells with cooked sausage crumbles and cover with remaining marinara sauce. Bake for 30 min at 350 degrees.

Serves 4

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