Spicy Kale, White Bean and Zucchini Stuffed Shells

Super satisfying and flavorful vegetarian stuffed shells with a kick!

Spicy Kale, White Bean and Zucchini Stuffed Shells

Super satisfying and flavorful vegetarian stuffed shells with a kick!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: vegetarian
Keyword: beans, kale, leeks, ricotta, zucchini
Servings: 4
Calories: 427kcal


  • 16-20 dry pasta shells
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup spaghetti or marinara sauce
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup ricotta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 inch sliced leek, use 3/4 inch white and 1/4 inch of leek greens
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 serrano chili, seeded and diced
  • 1 small zucchini, shredded
  • 3 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 slices provolone cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta shells in boiling water for 9 minutes, rinse immediately with cold water and set aside. Spray a rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Spread spaghetti sauce over bottom of baking dish.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the white beans with the ricotta using a fork to mash the beans as you go (optional to do this step in food processor). Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a medium skillet over med-low heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and allow to heat up. Add leeks, garlic and serrano. Saute 2 minutes until fragrant. Add shredded zucchini and continue to saute about 2 more minutes just until warm and starting to soften. Season with salt and pepper, add to bean mixture.
  • Put skillet back on stove an increase heat to medium. Add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add 3 cups roughly chopped kale and toss until coated. Season with salt and 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper. Continue cooking 2-3 minutes until just starting to wilt (longer for dinosaur kale). Should be al dente. Add to bean mixture and combine well.
  • Stuff shells with about 2 spoonfuls of bean mixture and place in baking dish. Tear the provolone slices into pieces and place on top of shells, distributing evenly.
  • Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes or until provolone just starts to turn golden.


I can’t take credit for the idea to use white beans as a stuffing for shells, but I did up the ante on the original recipe quite a bit.  
It might look like too many steps at first, but it came together in no time if you follow the instructions and stage it right.
I used the shredding blade on a food processor to shred the zucchini first, then moved that to a cutting board.  Switch out for the normal processing blade and then add the beans and ricotta and process about 5 seconds.  Finish in a mixing bowl with the other ingredients so you have the texture of the kale and zucchini in the final dish.  Don’t want to bother with the food processor?  You can easily do this in just a mixing bowl.  Cut the zucchini lengthwise first then into skinny half moons.  Maybe even use zoodles and just chop into bite size pieces instead.
The provolone was perfect and mild, just enough.  It might be tempting to overdo the spaghetti sauce because it looks like you need a sauce.  Trust me.  The shells are so flavorful on their own.  Don’t cover that up with tomato sauce…if you want something, drizzle a little quality olive oil on them.
Served this with a fresh salad and a bottle of white wine…made it three times in a row and loved it just as much each time.


Serving: 4shells | Calories: 427kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 477mg | Potassium: 1085mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 6033IU | Vitamin C: 68mg | Calcium: 349mg | Iron: 6mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Published by Jenny G

I'm sipping coffee in the morning, reading a cookbook for fun. Always planning my next trip and what I'll eat when I get there. Hoping to inspire others who share my love of cooking and eating, and to celebrate the wonderous diversity of food. I love to explore the world so I'll share my best itineraries and travel tips. Of course, sometimes I'd rather be snuggled up with a glass of wine and a good book so let's discuss those here too. And don't forget to feed the birds!

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