Kale and Ricotta Manicotti with Walnuts

September 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

Wrestling with your kids to eat their vegetables can be tiresome. My kids are now ages 10 and 12 and at the peak of their pickiness. My old tactics of merely currying healthy vegetables are nearly retired. With a pocket full of change from their allowance and freedom to roam the neighbourhood, at any given moment they can curb their hunger with a quick fix of sugar or junk food that can ruin their appetite for the evening.

Disguised amongst creamy ricotta and nestled inside tubes of pasta, this manicotti is a great way to sneak kale into your kid’s diet. Kale’s health benefits are endless. A member of the cruciferous family along with broccoli and cabbage,  kale lowers the risk of cancer,  is high in antioxidants and contains anti-inflammatory nutrients.

cooking time 75 minutes
serves 4

3 L water
1 225 gram package of manicotti

15 ml  (1 tbsp) olive oil
125 ml  (1/2 cup) diced onions
1 L  (4 cups) kale with stems removed and cut into 1″ pieces.
250 ml  (1 cup) walnuts chopped into small pieces
3 ml  (1/2 tsp)  sea salt
600 grams ricotta cheese
500 ml  (2 cups) pasta sauce
375 ml  (1 1/2 cups) grated mozzarella

1. Bring 3 litres of water to a boil. Add manicotti and cook until the noodles start to soften but are still firm, approximately 10 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse lightly in cold water. Set aside.

2. Heat a large saucepan on medium high heat and add olive oil. Add onions and sautee until transparent. Add kale and cook covered until kale reduces about 6-8 minutes.

3. Add walnuts and salt and cook uncovered for another 3 minutes.

4. Transfer the kale mixture into a mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese and mix together.

5. Cover the bottom of a medium-sized casserole dish with pasta sauce.

6. Using a teaspoon, gently stuff the manicotti with the kale and ricotta filling.

7. Line the casserole dish with the stuffed manicotti.

8. Pour pasta sauce on top of the layer of manicotti. If needed, add a second layer of manicotti and top with pasta sauce.

9. Sprinkle grated mozzarella on top and bake until the pasta is cooked and the cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.

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