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Mushroom and Kale Stuffed Shells

Cook Time:
35 mins
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

Bubbly baked pasta is the perfect low-effort dish to make as soon as you feel a chill in the air (and for the many cold months afterward). When the seasons change and we start to crave heavier, heartier meals, these vegetarian stuffed shells are one of our favorite go-to meals. The saucy, cheesy mushroom and kale filling is something that the whole family will love — even your little ones. 

We use portobello mushroom caps here since their dense, meaty texture is a close substitute for ground meat or sausage. They are sautéed with plenty of onions and garlic before being folded into a herby ricotta cheese mixture, along with lightly cooked kale leaves and store-bought pesto. 

The most time-consuming part of this recipe is actually stuffing the shells. Pre-cook the pasta shells, then stuff each to the brim with the mushroom-ricotta mixture. You can use a spoon to drop dollops of the filling into the pasta or you can transfer the mixture to a pastry bag, snip off the tip and neatly pipe the filling into the shells. You don’t need to worry too much about the presentation here since everything is going to be covered with a drizzle of marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. 

The key to perfectly tender shells that are crisp and browned on top is to keep the shells covered with foil for the first 20 minutes. Once everything is melted and warm, remove the foil and bake a few more minutes, just until the cheese on top is browned and bubbling. To make these stuffed shells even heartier, try adding a lean protein like ground chicken or turkey, or canned beans like cannellini or chickpeas, in with the mushrooms and kale. 

Get Ingredients: If you don’t have everything you need on hand, you can easily purchase all of the ingredients (just click the orange button below that says ‘Get Ingredients’). You can pick and choose exactly what ingredients you need based on what’s in your pantry and they’ll be on your doorstep before you know it.


  • 6 ounces jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 5 portobello mushroom caps, gills removed and diced
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups shredded kale
  • 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • cups marinara sauce
  • cups reduced fat mozzarella cheese
  • fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
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Preheat the oven to 420 F.


Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta shells according to the package instructions given. Drain, then set aside.


Meanwhile, heat a heavy-bottomed pot such as a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, onion mushrooms, salt and pepper and stir to combine, cooking until onions turn brown and the mushrooms shrink in size, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to separate bowl and set aside.


 In the same Dutch oven, add shredded kale and a few tablespoons of water to create steam. Toss the kale in the pot until it turns a vibrant green color, about 2 minutes. Set aside.


In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, mushroom mixture, sautéed kale, pesto, thyme and oregano.


In a casserole dish, spread about 1/2 cup of the marinara on the bottom. Then one by one, stuff a pasta shell with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mix, then add it to the dish. 


Cover the shells with the remaining marinara and mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. For the final 5 minutes, remove the foil so the mozzarella can brown. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley just before serving.