In the past year or so, I've really come to love greens - kale, collards, and most recently swiss chard. It has a nice fresh, almost lemony flavor, and is definitely milder than kale or collard greens. I really like greens prepares simply: sauteed in some olive oil. This recipe is definitely a little more decadent, and it doesn't really make chard the star of the show, but it does provide a nice light background flavor to an otherwise rich dish.
The filling is made up of the chard, sweet peas, ricotta, and cheese. It is then piped into manicotti shells, covered with fontina fonduta sauce, and topped with more cheese. So yeah, not exactly a healthy vegetarian meal. However, I took some liberties with the recipe and slimmed it down where I could. I used park-skim ricotta and mozzarella, skim milk instead of whole milk, and increased both the chard and the peas. I also added a little lemon zest, nutmeg, and crushed red pepper flakes. I realize that its still pretty indulgent, but I'm okay with that every now and then. Even with my modifications, this was still a really delicious meal. With all the greens we are sure to receive in our CSA this summer, I'm glad to have this in our repertoire for a special occasion.
Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti
adapted from Giada de Laurentiis, Giada at Home
makes 12 manicotti (serves 4 to 6)
- cooking spray
- 12 manicotti or cannelloni pasta shells
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 16 ounces Swiss chard
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2-3 cups grated fontina cheese
- 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, 5-7 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
For the filling: Remove the stems of the chard using kitchen shears or a knife. Chop the leaves into 1-inch pieces. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Then add the chard and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then add to the bowl of a food processor along with the ricotta, peas, mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe the filling into each shell and line them up in the prepared bakign dish.
For the fontina Fonduta sauce: In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, and add the fontina. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and basil.
Pour the sauce over the stuffed manicotti and sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.