Copyright Thomas Saaristo  All Rights Reserved
Duck sausage and kale stuffed shells with Marinara
Dinner party fare

The black Italian kale is becoming more and more readily available. If you cannot find
it, substitute with your favorite kale or greens

Duck sausage can be found at speciality retailers, food catalogues or online

Read the recipe all the way through before you begin, especially as you will use the
kale cooking liquid to boil your pasta and you need a full recipe of Marinara for


For the greens
1/4 cup House salt
Black peppercorns in a pepper mill
2 teaspoons chicken base
2 bay leaves
4 ounce end piece prosciutto
24 ounces stemmed black Italian kale, julienned

For the shells
One 12 ounce box jumbo pasta shells, approximately 36 shells

For the stuffing
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup diced onion
2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups marinara sauce (recipe follows)
Two 15 ounce containers whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano  
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces full cooked duck sausage, casings removed, roughly chopped

Marinara sauce, recipe follows

2 1/2 cups shredded whole milk smoked mozzarella

Fresh micro greens, optional


For the greens
Bring a large stock pot of water to the boil. Add the salt, freshly ground black pepper,
chicken base, bay leaves and prosciutto followed by the kale. Fully submerge the kale
and cook until it is infinitely tender, 20 to 25 minutes

Remove the kale from the water with a spider to a colander to drain. Discard the bay
leaves and prosciutto

For the shells
Bring the water back to the boil and add the jumbo shells and give everything a big
stir. Cook the shells until they are tender, 11 to 13 minutes. Ladle 2 cup of the greens
and pasta cooking liquid to a rimmed half sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a
silpat silicone mat. Use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer the shells to the half sheet
pan with the water. Cover with aluminum foil

For the stuffing
Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add the canola oil and
swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil starts to shimmer add the onion, a
pinch of salt, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium high heat, stirring
frequently until the onions are translucent and just beginning to brown around the
edges. Remove from the heat and scrape onto a plate set on a cooling rack to cool

Heat oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit

Meanwhile, combine the cooked greens, ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, parsley, basil, mint,
salt, pepper and chopped sausages in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt and freshly
ground black pepper to taste

Ladle half a cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish

Carefully stuff the shells with the stuffing, being generous and thoughtfully but
dutifully filling them as much as possible, even so that the filling splays the shells open
and a broad surface of the filling is exposed. Place the stuffed shells in a single layer
atop the marinara sauce. Pour the remaining Marinara over the shells and carefully
sprinkle the smoked mozzarella directly over each shell

Spray a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the baking dish, sprayed
side down, very tightly

Bake for 60 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until everything is
hot and bubbly and the cheese is golden brown

Remove the Stuffed shells from the oven and carefully ladle some sauce into the
bottom of each serving bowl and carefully arrange 3 shells per person atop the sauce.
Garnish with micro greens if desired

Marinara sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion, finely minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 celery stalk, finely minced
1 carrots, peeled and finely minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
One 32 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 dried bay leaf

In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and
saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and
season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and bay leaf, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce
thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with
more salt and pepper, to taste.

The sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cool to room temperature, cover and
refrigerate. Warm over medium heat before using