Swiss Chard and Ricotta Manicotti

I first had Swiss chard a few years ago and ever since then I vow every year that I will plant some in my garden.  And each year comes and goes and I never get around to it.  So I’m very grateful to farmers that allow me to be lazy yet still enjoy this tasty veggie. 

This recipe is a product of that promise that I made to start making some heart healthy recipes.  A few months back I received a complimentary “cookbook” from the American Heart Association.  Seemed like the perfect place to get the first recipe from and when I saw this one I knew that it would be the winner!  I was a little unsure because I’m not the biggest fan of ricotta, I usually sub cottage cheese for it in my lasagna.  But I stuck with the recipe exactly as is, to protect the health facts.  As my husband declared, this is a keeper!  It was very easy, the only thing I’d do differently next time (and there will be a next time) is spread the sauce over the whole top of the manicotti, instead of just down the middle.  The edges got dry and hard.

Swiss Chard and Ricotta Manicotti
Recipe from:  American Heart Association Light & Easy Recipes

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
8 dried manicotti shells
Filling:
1 bunch Swiss chard (about 8 ounces)
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 large egg white
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Sauce:
2 tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
1/4 cup no-salt added tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Topping:
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Method:

Cook pasta al-dente’ (omitting salt and oil), drain in a colander but be careful not to tear the shells.  Set aside.

Spray a 13×9 casserole with cooking spray and set aside.

Discard the stems from the chard.  Stack several leaves on top of each other and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Repeat with remaining leaves.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over med-high heat and cook onion and garlic until soft, about three minutes.  Stir in the chard and cook until wilted and liquid has evaporated (about 3 more minutes).  Let cool slightly and stir int he remaining filling ingredients. 

Preheat oven to 375.

In a food processor, process the sauce ingredients together for about 20 seconds or until chunky.  Pour 1 cup of sauce into the baking dish and spread evenly along the bottom.  Gently spoon about 1/4 cup filling into the manicotti (be gentle so you don’t break them!).  Place into the casserole and top with the remaining sauce and the cheese. 

Bake, covered for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake 10-15 more minutes, or until heated through.

Swiss Chard & Ricotta Manicotti

Calories: 324
Total Fat:  8.5 g
Saturated Fat:  4.0 g
Trans Fat:  0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat:  0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat:  2.5 g
Cholesterol:  28 mg
Sodium:  606 mg
Carbs:  44 g
Fiber:  5 g
Sugars:  11 g
Protein:  19 g
Dietary Exchanges:  1.5 lean meat, 2 starch, 3 veggies

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