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Recipe: Ricotta Kale Pasta Bake


Kale, a dark leafy green, is a nutrition powerhouse with few calories – just 8 in a cup of the raw vegetable – plus iron, calcium and potassium; and vitamins A, K and C. It also is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are believed to protect eyes from sun damage and reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. 

While greens, like kale, are often used raw in salads, they become tender and even more tasty when sautéed, as in this flavorful casserole, and baked with pasta and spiced ricotta.

Ricotta Kale Pasta Bake

Makes 10 2-cup servings

  • 1 pound shell pasta, uncooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 12 ounces (5 cups) fresh kale, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fennel seed
  • 1 ½ pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup canned, diced, no-salt tomatoes, drained
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large pot, cook pasta in rapidly boiling water until al dente. Stir often so the pasta does not stick. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. 

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil, then add kale. Saute for 1 minute and add the garlic. Cook until kale is wilted and tender. Season with salt and black pepper. Add to the cooked pasta and toss well to evenly distribute the kale.

In a hot dry skillet, toast the fennel seeds until fragrant. Lightly crush with the back of a wooden spoon. In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, fennel, crushed red pepper, parsley, tomatoes, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper. Add to the pasta and stir together.

Lightly spread olive oil inside a large baking pan. Spread the pasta-vegetable-cheese mixture into the pan. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until bubbly and hot, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cut into 10 portions and serve with a spatula.

NUTRITION INFORMATION (per 2-cup serving): 410 calories, 19 g protein , 46 g carbohydrate, 16 g fat, 270 mg sodium, 8 g saturated fat, 5 g fiber

About Karen Stutzman RD

I am a Ascension Via Christi Hospital clinical dietitian and certified diabetes educator. I received my master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition from University of Kansas Medical Center. When I’m not working, I enjoy feeding and watching birds.