Swiss Chard: A Rainbow of Taste

April 15, 2010

Have you seen them in your grocery store? Beautiful bunches of Swiss chard with their shiny, dark crinkled leaves?

This very nutritious vegetable is related to beets, and the stems come in a variety of colors. I like Bright Lights, a variety with a rainbow of colors from yellow to pink, orange and red.

Many people overlook this vegetable or if they cook it, it is mostly steamed or boiled and served as a side veggie. Swiss chard is available all year long but it is best from June until early fall. If your family is like mine, sometimes you have to do a magic act to get them to try things that are good for them. I wanted to give Swiss chard a new lease on taste and make it more exciting, so I decided that stuffing it with a tasty ricotta cheese filling was the way to go.
If you like surprising your family with something new, try this. Even the picky eaters will like it, and it is a perfect dish for vegetarians. And for those who need something a bit more robust, try stuffing the leaves with your favorite meatloaf or meatball mixture.

Bietola Ripiena
Stuffed Swiss Chard

Serves 4

One 15 ounce container ricotta cheese (skim or whole milk)
1 egg
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese Salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 small onion, diced
8 large whole swiss chard leaves with stems washed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 350F

In a bowl combine the ricotta cheese, egg, 1/4 cup of the grated cheese, salt and parsley. Set aside.

Cut away the stems from the swiss chard and thinly slice them. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add 1 teaspoon salt. Add the whole leaves and blanch for 10 seconds. Carefully remove the leaves with a slotted spoon and allow them to cool.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. When the oil is hot add the onion and stems and cook them over medium heat until the stems soften. Cool the mixture slightly, then add to the bowl with the ricotta cheese mixture.

Lay each swiss chard leaf flat and spread 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture down the center of each. Starting from the end nearest you roll each leave up to encase the filling, folding in the sides as you go.

Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in the base of the casserole.

Place the swiss chard rolls in a single layer in the casserole and spread the remaining tomato sauce over the tops of each.

Sprinkle the tops with the cheese.

Cover the dish tightly with aluminium foil and bake for 35 minutes.

Uncover and serve immediately.

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