Spinach & Swiss Chard Cannelloni

November 25, 2008

Swiss chard (or just plain chard) is known for its edible stalks and leaves rich in vitamins and minerals. Choose chard that is firm and unblemished with crisp, evenly-colored leaves. It can be eaten raw or cooked; when small and tender, the raw leaves are delicious in salads. In cooked dishes, chard leaves are prepared much like spinach. This recipe uses unique yet simple ingredients to create an irresistible, sumptuous dish.

2 bunches ruby red Swiss chard (about 12 large leaves)
4 cups spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 to 6 cloves garlic
1 15 oz (475 g) container ricotta cheese
1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
3 fresh 9 ×12-inch pasta sheets or dried equivalent, cooked
2 cups Quick Weekday Tomato Sauce (recipe in cookbook)
1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, grated (to sprinkle on top)

• Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
• Wash the chard and spinach carefully to remove sand, then roughly chop and set aside.
• In a skillet on medium, heat the oil. Sauté the onions until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 3 minutes.
• Add the spinach and chard, reduce heat to low, and sauté until the greens become wilted and the liquid evaporates, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
• In a large mixing bowl, combine the three cheeses, basil, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked spinach and chard and mix well.
• Place mixture into a tipless piping bag or a zip-lock plastic bag with one corner cut off. Lay out the pasta sheets on the counter and pipe a line of the mixture along the two longest outside edges of each sheet.
• Roll each side toward the middle. Cut in half lengthwise and then cut each tube in half so each sheet produces four evenly-rolled tubes. Repeat until all the mixture has been used.
• Grease a 14 × 9 × 2-inch (33 × 23 × 5-cm) baking dish. Place a thin layer of tomato sauce in bottom of the dish. Arrange cannelloni, seam sides down, in the sauce. Ladle remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with grated mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until warmed through and the cheese has melted and tomato sauce starts to bubble.

Makes 6 servings.
Cannelloni freeze well for up to 4 to 6 weeks.
Fresh pasta sheets can be purchased at pasta specialty shops and grocery stores in the refrigerated section.

Cookbook available at Barbara Jo's Books to Cooks.

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