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Monday, January 17, 2011

Meatless Monday: Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti

Courtesy of Food Network
My favorite dish as a child my mother would make would be marinara manicotti. I would beg her often to make it and for my birthdays as a teen, she would make it. Her recipe wasn't exactly a secret, use the recipe on the back of the box (this was the secret to a few of her fabulous recipes).

As part of my resolutions, I'm exploring the recipes I have not tried in my cookbook collection and I found this little gem in Giada's New Italian Favorites.

My friends know I am not a big fan of Swiss Chard or kale. I have found that I can tolerate eating kale like a Caesar Salad if I have the right dressing and a little bit of lemon juice to cut the bitterness but I really haven't found anything that makes Swiss Chard tolerable to eat ... well, that is until now.

The dish had my husband calling for seconds and I can't wait to eat it for lunch as leftovers. A friend of mine had an extra box of stuffed shells so I used them manicotti noodles this time. Next time, I will make sure I don't forget manicotti noodles when I go shopping. Oops.

Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti
from Giada's New Italian Favorites

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
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 (used dried Italian herbs)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Fontina Fonduta Sauce
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups (6 ounces) fontina cheese, grated
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves (used dried Italian herbs)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) mozzarella, shredded

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 asimmer, 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.


  1. I am so glad you posted the recipe. When you tweeted about it I thought- that sounds delicious. Totally going to try making it. It marries my love of veggies with my boyfriend's love of all things Italian. Thanks!

  2. This looks Ah-mazing! I am not a fan of Swiss Chard either. Although I made a Swiss Chard Gnocchi in Tomato Cream Sauce once that rocked my world. Now I have add this to my list of what-to-do-with-Chard-when-it-appears-in-my-CSA.

    I host a weekly Meatless Monday blog carnival. This would be a great post to link to it.

    I invite you to add your meatless posts to the carnival and help spread the Meatless Monday movement!

    ♥ Rebecca Jean
    Midnight Maniac



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