My husband and I started gardening a few years ago. It’s fun playing in the dirt and truth be told, it makes me happy to feed others with the produce we grow.
Last year, my husbands parents gave us some big beautiful Swiss chard leaves that they grew out of their garden. Sometimes I get annoyed because their produce yield is just… way more AMAZING than ours. But we are still learning how to be good gardeners and I’ll always take fresh grown produce free of pesticides.
I couldn’t see the Swiss chard go to waste so I did a quick blanch, and froze them in 6-8 oz. ziplock bags. Think of frozen spinach.
My father-in-law’s 60th birthday was coming up. Pre-covid pandemic, we would have chosen to go all out, find the newest and coolest restaurant, spend way too much money on food and drinks and then maybe have some cocktails at home with a bunch of people or even meet with them at the bars.
But alas, covid. We opted to stay home and have a small gathering instead.
Any way, his parents are new found vegetarians after watching a few food documentaries on Netflix and seeing the the plethora of terrible things meat does to a body. So for dinner, his parents suggested cheese pizza… for his a 60th birthday….
Pizza?! Certainly they had to be kidding. (Humor me and imagine Queen Elizabeth saying the following) “One can not eat pizza on ones 60th birthday”.
Obviously that shit wasn’t happening on my watch. I like to cook and make people happy. So I made a pretty fantastic vegetarian spread. I’ll share the rest of the dishes at a later date.
One of the requests was for pasta. So do you know what I did? I took that big beautiful Swiss chard that his parents grew and graciously gave to us, I stuffed it in some shells and I served it right back at them! It was a crowd pleaser folks. The lemon in the sauce gives it a refreshing twist on a heavy pasta dish. And guess what? No meat. 😎
- 6 oz. frozen swiss chard
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- (2) 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
- 1 can full of water
- 2 tsp dried oregano; divided
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon; divided
- 1 large free-range egg
- 1/3 cup shredded parmesan
- (1) 15 oz. jar of ricotta
- (1) 8oz box of cannelloni pasta tubes or manicotti pasta tubes
- 8oz. shredded firm cooking mozzarella
You’ll also need…
- Large piping bag. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a large zip lock bag and cut off the tip.
- 9×15″ baking dish.
- Heat the oven to 365°F
- Prepare cannelloni filling per directions below.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium sized deep pot. Add garlic and onion until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, half of the oregano and half of the lemon zest to the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes. I don’t care for big chunks of tomatoes in my sauce, so I used a hand held food processor to blend it a little bit.
- Add the lemon juice. Season to taste.
- Put a 2-3 scoops of sauce on the bottom of baking dish.
- Rough chop the swiss chard and add all of the following ingredients into a large food processor. I used my brand new Ninja, and let me tell you, I’m a little annoyed with myself that I didn’t have one of these earlier in life.
- Add egg, parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, half of oregano and ricotta. Season to taste with Salt and Pepper
- Transfer the mixture to the piping bag and use to fill the cannelloni tubes. Lay the filled tubes in the baking dish.
- Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the cannelloni.
- Sprinkle mozzarella over the tomato sauce, cover with tin foil and bake for 35-40 minutes until sauce is bubbling.
- Remove tin foil and broil until you see little brown spots appear on the cheese.
- Take out of oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.