Swiss Chard Cannelloni (Pasta Incu Bietulle)

Fresh pasta, whether homemade or bought, is ideal for these hearty cannelloni, baked in zesty tomato sauce. This recipe first appeared in our May 2012 issue along with David McAninch's story Pleasure Island.

Pasta Incu Bietulle (Swiss Chard Cannelloni)
Fresh pasta, whether homemade or bought, is ideal for these hearty cannelloni, baked in zesty tomato sauce.
Yield: serves 8

Ingredients

  • 14 cup olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 14 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 14 cup finely chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp. minced thyme leaves
  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 12 lb. Swiss chard, leaves separated and stems chopped
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped mint
  • 16 (5″ x 7″) fresh pasta sheets
  • 4 oz. mozzarella or fontina

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a 4–qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ⅔ of the garlic and onion; cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomato paste and chile flakes; cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add stock, basil, thyme, tomatoes, bay leaf, and salt and pepper; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally to meld flavors, about 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf, and purée sauce; set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add chard leaves and stems; cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a kitchen towel; twist into a ball, squeezing tightly, to drain any excess water. Finely chop leaves and stems, and transfer to a bowl along with remaining garlic, cheese, mint, and salt and pepper; mix well, and set filling aside.
  3. Heat oven to 425°. Place about ¼ cup filling near the short end of one pasta sheet. Starting at that short end, roll sheet into a cylinder around filling; repeat with remaining filling and sheets. Spread half the sauce in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish; place pasta cylinders into dish, creating a single, snug layer. Cover with remaining sauce, and grate mozzarella over top; cover dish with foil. Bake until pasta is cooked through, about 35 minutes. Transfer to broiler, and broil on high until cheese is browned, about 2 minutes.