Farmer’s Market Find: Swiss Chard and Ricotta stuffed Shells

These took a while to assemble, but I was able to use up some sauces from the freezer(enabling me to make more sauces for the freezer!), and the end result was well worth the effort. Plus, I had one good-sized freezer dish that got tucked in the freezer, waiting for lunch on a busy week. However, this was so good, I have a feeling I’ll be making it again this summer. Soon.

 

One of my favorite farmer's market vendor's tables: in the bottom left corner, you can see the rainbow swiss chard.  How he kept it going so long down here in the south, I don't know!

One of my favorite farmer’s market vendor’s tables: in the bottom left corner, you can see the rainbow swiss chard. How he kept it going so long down here in the south, I don’t know!

Pretty rainbow swiss chard, just prior to being sauteed.

Pretty rainbow swiss chard, just prior to being sauteed.

 

Stuffing the shells, and drizzling with some of my homemade sauce.

Stuffing the shells, and drizzling with some of my homemade sauce.

 

Topping with  fresh breadcrumbs,  herbs, and lots of cheese.

Topping with fresh breadcrumbs, herbs, and lots of cheese.

 

Out of the oven....

Out of the oven….

 

A happy lunch at my desk!

A happy lunch at my desk!

 

A delicious meatless entrée that utilizes up some of those greens everybody keeps telling us to eat more of. 

 

NOTE:  Also, freezes well for several months if well-wrapped.

 

  • 1 box large shells
  • 6 cups water (or to cover by about 2 inches
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large container ricotta, 32 ounces
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 bunch rainbow swiss chard or other green
  • ½ cup onion, minced
  • 2 to 3 cups marinara or roasted red pepper sauce
  • About 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (optional)
  • Grated parmesan, romano, asiago, or any combination you have on hand

 

Method:

  1. Cook the shells slightly under the time that the box instructs. I usually take 2 minutes off the lower time given.  Actually, what worked the best was a total accident.  I cooked the shells, and arranged them on a baking sheet to keep them separate.  Then, I took a nap.  By the time I returned to the kitchen and finished making the filling, the partially cooked shells had hardened and dried, making them actually easier to work with and fill.  The sauce on top helped to re-hydrate the shells.
  2. To prepare the Swiss chard, I always remove the green leaves from the stem. I then chop the stem in ½-inch sections, and sauté that in a little bit of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) with the onion.  Once the stems are tender and the onions are translucent, I add the chopped or hand-torn chard into the skillet and cover it with a lid to let it steam and wilt slightly. Remove skillet from burner and let cool before adding to the ricotta-egg mixture.
  3. To make the ricotta egg mixture, combine the ricotta, eggs, bell pepper, parsley, garlic, salt & pepper and mix well. Add the cooled greens and mix well.
  4. Carefully stuff the shells and arrange in a casserole dish that has a little smear of sauce in the bottom, or olive oil. Drizzle with the sauce. A little or a lot? Your choice.  I used several cups of homemade sauce from the freezer – a homemade roasted cherry tomato soup and some leftover roasted red pepper sauce that I combined.  The combined result made an excellent and flavorful topping.
  5. You can use plain or pre-seasoned bread crumbs. However, I usually make fresh bread crumbs out of whatever bread must go.  It is usually whole wheat muffins, sandwich bread, and sometimes even pita bread.  Throw them in a little food processor with a few garlic cloves, some parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, and black pepper, and you have fresh seasoned bread crumbs.  They will crisp up in the oven.
  6. Top with grated parmesan or romano cheese, and bake about 30 to 40 minutes, when cheese is slightly browned on top.
  7. Enjoy! To freeze, wrap well with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down to the surface to prevent freezer burn.  This will last 3 in a regular freezer, 6 months or longer in a deep freezer.
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