Sunday, November 1, 2009

Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti

I had a beautiful bunch of red and yellow Swiss chard from my CSA share. Always looking to try something new, this manicotti recipe looked good enough to try. As I’ve said before, I quickly take note of long lists of ingredients in recipes, but since it was a dreary, rainy Sunday, I had plenty of time to get this dish together.

When I pulled the baking dish out of the oven, the manicotti was perfectly browned and bubbling with a wonderful aroma that filled the house. This recipe was so delicious—well worth the effort (and the mess it made of my kitchen)! The filling was a silky, cheesy veggie puree, and the Fontina Fonduta sauce was sublime. Buon appetito!

Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti, Giada De Laurentiis

Butter, for greasing the pan
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
¾ cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1 cup shredded mozzarella (4 ounces)
¾ cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Fontina Fonduta Sauce:
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups (6 ounces) Fontina cheese, grated
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) mozzarella, shredded

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.

For the Fontina Fonduta Sauce:
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring milk and cream to a simmer, over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Add the Fontina cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and basil.

Pour the sauce over the stuffed manicotti and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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