[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Baked pasta dishes should be hearty, but sometimes they turn out heavy, too—and those two things don't necessarily need to go hand in hand. Sure, it's easy enough to load up a baking dish with pasta and cheese and meat and whatever else, but this recipe from Martha Stewart is a little more delicate. There's plenty of kale to stand in for some of the pasta, and an airy ricotta to keep things light.

Why I Picked This Recipe: Mostly for the reasons stated above: a casserole dish that would satisfy the fall craving for warm, satisfying dinner with protein, vegetables, and carbs all together, but without being a gut bomb.

What Worked: The dish is definitely lighter than you'd expect, and the ricotta works wonderfully in that regard (the lemon zest mixed into it also brightens it considerably); using kale to bulk out the dish instead of more pasta is key.

What Didn't: I found the dish a little dry, but that's easily fixed with a some pasta water saved from the cooking process, along with a drizzle of olive oil before serving.

Suggested Tweaks: The ratios of ingredients in this dish are quite malleable; adding even more kale to replace the pasta is probably what I'd do if I made this again.

Adapted from MarthaStewart.com.

About the author: Blake Royer has been writing for Serious Eats since 2007. He is the Creative Director at Jamco Creative in Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter: @blakeroyer.

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