Sunday, April 3, 2011

Vegetarian Recipe Alert! Italian Stuffed Swiss Chard

I love greens. A lot. But I get tired of the same old stewed or sauteed side dishes so I referred to one of my favorite Italian chefs, one that I have been watching since I was a wee boy, Maryann Esposito from Ciao Italia! She always has wonderful recipes using ingredients that you always WANT to buy from the farmers markets, but never know what to do with them.

Well, one day I decided to ask Maryann herself what she would do with something such as swiss chard that doesn't involve sauteing with olive oil and garlic (which isn't bad but ughhh). She responded to my comment with a recipe that sounded delicious and good for you. I've sort of created my own recipe with the help of Maryann. This is very suitable for vegetarians as well!

Stuffed Swiss Chard

1 bunch of Swiss Chard (make sure the leaves are full and not full of holes)
15 oz ricotta cheese
Handful of kalamata or black olives, chopped
Handful shredded parmesan cheese
1 tbsp pesto
1 egg
1 tsp sugar
1 onion chopped
1-2 garlic cloves minced
15 oz can stewed italian tomatoes or your favorite sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

First, wash and dry the swiss chard, chop off the long stems (reserving them and chopping into small pieces) and set aside. Take your finger and crush the spine of the leaf all the way, but be gentle as to not rip the leaf.

In a bowl mix the cheeses, pesto, egg, sugar and olives.

In a saute pan, heat oil over medium heat, add onions and swiss chard stems, saute until stems and onions are soft but not browned then add garlic making sure not to burn it. Allow to cool about 5 mins and add to cheese mixture and mix thoroughly.

Take your first leaf, and place a heaping spoon of the mixture at the smaller end. Begin to gently roll, tucking in the sides (like rolling an egg roll). When you reach the end place the bundle in a casserole dish seam side down, tightly pack the dish with the rest of the rolls. Pour your tomatoes over the top of the rolls, cover with foil and bake at 350F for, ohhh, lets say 35-40 minutes.

Now, I am a big fan of stuffed cabbage cooked in a tangy tomato sauce, I don't see why you couldn't use swiss chard in place of the cabbage. Go ahead, try it!

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