Swiss Chard & Mushroom Stuffed Shells
• 6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (half of a 12-ounce box)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, cut into ribbons
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
• 15 ounces ricotta
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
• 1-1/2 cups half-and-half
• 1/2 pound fontina cheese, grated
• 8 ounces part skim mozzarella, divided
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
• 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
• Balsamic glaze, optional
1. Cook pasta shells according to package directions; drain and set aside to cool.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish and set aside.
3. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add chard, onion and mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl of food processor. Add ricotta and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and process until combined. (You want it to be a bit chunky but mixed well.)
4. Spoon chard mixture into cooked and cooled shells. Line shells up, touching, in prepared dish, and set aside.
5. In saucepan, heat the half-and-half over medium heat. Add fontina and half the mozzarella, and heat until melted and smooth. Stir in nutmeg, pepper and remaining sea salt. Pour sauce evenly over stuffed shells. Top with remaining mozzarella and cherry tomatoes.
6. Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for an additional 20 minutes, or until mozzarella is melted.
7. Sprinkle with basil and a swirl of balsamic glaze, if desired, just before serving.
Note: A balsamic glaze is simply a sauce made with about 1 cup balsamic vinegar and a couple tablespoons brown sugar, honey or molasses, and cooked over low heat for a few minutes, until smooth, then brought to a boil briefly, before reducing heat and simmering for 8 to 10 minutes, or until mixture is reduced by a third and is slightly thick.
Craving more fresh Italian recipes? Check out Farmhouse Style Italian Recipes.
Karen K. Will is editor of Heirloom Gardener magazine, and co-author, along with Editor-in-Chief Oscar H. Will III, of Plowing With Pigs and Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions (New Society Publishers, 2013).