Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Yes, I've been cooking the past week and a half. It's been a little crazy at our house though, as usual. Between being out of town, having an out of town guest stay with us, two kids with strep throat, preschool graduation, Mother's Day, and a birthday, I've gotten behind on posting. Really, I am going to try to do better, especially since the season is changing and I have new recipes to post!

Swiss chard is finally coming on strong. I've made some favorite recipes like Swiss Chard Tart and Lasagna Style Baked Ziti. I've also found some new recipes, one of my favorite being this one.

This is a slightly fussy recipe. The recipe calls for the dish to be made in souffle dish and then inverted onto a platter to be served, making it resemble the leaning town of pasta. I did that this time. It was interesting and looked kinda rustic Italian. I won't do it next time though. I will cook it in a round, tall casserole dish, but I'll skip inverting it, serving it out of the dish instead. It is an all afternoon type of dish, but it's worth it. Most of the stuff you could do ahead of time or start and walk away from for a while. This makes 6 - 8 servings easily.

We all liked this and I think it's a rather great way to use chard.

adapted slightly from Gourmet

Meat Sauce
1 1/2 T olive oil
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage (casings removed if in links)
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/4 t salt
1 T tomato paste
1/2 c dry red wine
1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes
pinch of sugar

For chard in bechamel sauce
1 lb Swiss chard, ribs removed, and leaves coarsely chopped (4 c)
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T all-purpose flour
1 c milk (whole works best)
1/4 t salt
pinch of pepper
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 c Parmesan, finely grated

3/4 lb ziti
4 oz mozzarella, grated

To make the meat sauce: Heat oil in 12" skillet over medium high heat until hot. Saute sausage, breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add onion and bay leaf. Saute, stirring frequently, until onion begins to brown, 5 - 7 minutes. Add carrot, celery and salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, one minute. Add wine and deglaze by boiling, scraping browned bits off bottom of the pan, until most of the liquid is evaporated, 1 -2 minutes. Add tomato puree and sugar and boil, stirring frequently until thickened, 8 - 10 minutes. Cool sauce and discard bay leaf.

While sauce cooks, cook pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water until al dente (according to package directions). Transfer with skimmer to a colander to drain (don't rinse), reserving cooking water in pot to cook chard. Spread pasta on a cookie sheet and cool until warm.

To make the chard in bechamel sauce: Add chard to the pot of reserved pasta water an simmer, uncovered, until tender, 3- 5 minutes. Transfer with skimmer to a bowl of ice water. Drain chard and squeeze handfuls. Finely chop. Heat butter in a 1 1/2- 2 qt heavy saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides. Add garlic and cook, whisking, one minute, being careful not to burn garlic. Add flour and cook, whisking, one minute. Add milk in a slow stream, whisking. Bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until sauce has slightly thickened. Stir in chard, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 2 T Parmesan. Remove from heat.

To assemble and bake: Oil a 2 qt or so casserole dish with tall sides and line bottom with a round of parchment paper, then oil parchment. (Skip the parchment paper step if you don't plan to invert it). Cover bottom of dish with a single layer of pasta. Sprinkle 1/2 c mozzarella and 3 T Parmesan over pasta. Spoon half of meat sauce in an even layer over cheese. Arrange 1/3 of remaining pasta over meat sauce in dish, top with all of the chard/bechamel sauce, then another layer of pasta (about 1/2 of the remainder). Sprinkle with remainder of cheese, then spoon remaining meat sauce over cheese. Top with remaining pasta. Cover dish with a lightly oiled piece of foil.

Fill a large pan (I used a roasting pan) about an inch or so up with water. Place timballo into pan. Bake timballo in water bath in a preheated 375 degrees oven for about 1 hour. Remove from water bath and let stand, covered for 15 minutes. Remove foil. If inverting, run a knife around the edge to loosen timballo. Invert onto a platter. Remove souffle dish and parchment.

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