Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti

I used to carry a great anathema against all things manicotti. I'm not sure why to be honest, but that certainly warrants the question of "are you crazy??". And yes, yes, I must've been so.

My palate though, in recent years has really become a stuffed- manicotti fan. It's one of the very best - in terms of taste and satisfaction- vegetarian dishes I have yet to come across. This one is healthier too because instead of stuffing the shells with a strictly cheese-based filling (not complaining, though!), you get that nutritious leafy Swiss chard and peas as well. The process of making manicotti is a bit convoluted in terms of steps and time, but it is a dish I'm worth putting in a little more elbow grease to because, well, it's worth it.

The original version contains a homemade Fontina sauce, of which, I decided to forgo and substitute in normal marinara. Fontina cheese at my local store is exorbitantly priced and I just can't come to grips yet of buying a tiny wedge of cheese for 8 dollars. Sorry. I love cheese as much as the next guy (ahem, gal), but I also love saving a penny if I can!

  • Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti

    {liberally adapted from Giada de Laurentiis}

    12 manicotti or cannelloni pasta shells

    1 head (about 12 ounces) red or white Swiss chard

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 medium onion, chopped

    1 clove garlic, minced

    1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese

    3/4 cup frozen petite peas, thawed

    1 cup shredded mozzarella (4 ounces)

    3/4 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)

    1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

    3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

    1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

    Special Equipment: a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (recommended: Ateco #7)

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    Grease a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish liberally with butter.Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

    For the Filling:

    Using kitchen scissors or a knife, remove the leaves from the stems of the chard. Discard the stems. Chop the leaves into 1-inch pieces. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the chard and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Place the ricotta cheese, peas, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cooled chard mixture and blend until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pastry bag and fill each manicotti shell with the filling. Place the stuffed manicotti in the prepared baking dish.

    Pour desired sauce over the dish and sprinkle with mozzarella/Parmesan mixture and bake until the cheese is bubbling and hot!


Holly C M said...

Oh goodness, I am going to make this sometime this week--perhaps tomorrow!

Holly C M said...

I have made it twice now! So good. And about quinoa--EM would be proud.