Chicken sausage, kale, and ricotta stuffed jumbo shells, baked in a sweet potato cream sauce.
Italian chicken sausage mixed with wilted kale, ricotta, and pecorino stuffed in large pasta shells, tucked into a creamy sweet potato sauce and baked.
The title of this recipe is stuffed pasta instead of stuffed shells because any filled pasta will work for this dish. Shells, of course, can be used. But cannelloni, manicotti, ravioli, and even tortellini would be delicious substitutions.
This recipe makes 34 shells, which is a large enough batch for gatherings or parties. Dividing the recipe in half will easily feed a family of 4.
Sweet potatoes are quite a versatile vegetable with many uses. Check out some of my other sweet potato recipes here. The potatoes in this recipe not only flavor the sauce but also color, sweeten, and thicken it. Butternut squash or pumpkin can be swapped for the sweet potato if desired.
I used Italian chicken sausage for this dish. The chicken is lighter in flavor and richness than pork sausage. Thus, allowing all the bright veggie flavors to take the spotlight. But don’t get me wrong, Italian pork sausage would also be delicious.
Sausage and Kale Stuffed Pasta
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup onion diced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 4 cups sweet potato peeled and diced
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups cream
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups onion diced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 2 pounds italian chicken sausage
- 1 1/4 tsp oregano chopped
- 4 cups kale chopped
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 cups ricotta
- 1/2 cup pecorino grated
- 34 each jumbo shell pasta
- 1-1 1/2 cups pecorino grated
- Heat the oil and butter in a sauce pot over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to bubble add the onion and sweat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the potato, water, cream, and nutmeg to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potaoes are tender and remove from the heat. Puree the mixture in a high speed blender or with a hand blender. The sauce should be smooth and a little thin. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/3 of the sauce into a large bowl. Divide the remaining sauce between 2-3 large baking pans.
- Heat a large skillet with oil over medium heat. When the oil shimmers add the onion and cook until tender. Add the sausage, garlic, and oregano to the pan and cook through. Mix the kale into the sausage and allow to wilt. Cook off any excess water. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- Once cooled, mix in the ricotta, pecorino, and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells to the water and cook until tender. Drain the shells and add them to the bowl with the sauce. Gently toss with the sauce to coat the shells.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinke 1/4 cup of pecorino over the sauce in the baking pans. Fill each of the shells with about 1/8 cup of filling and place them in the baking dishes. Sprinkle the shells with the remaining pecorino and bake 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.