Recipes are adapted from “The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”.
Tortellini Stuffed With Chard, Bacon, and Ricotta (6 servings):
- 3 eggs
- 1 2/3 cup flour
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 1/2 lb Swiss chard
- 3 tbsp onion, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp prosciutto or bacon, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 egg yolk
- 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
Place flour in a mound, with more handy if needed. Make a hollow in the middle, add eggs and milk. Beat the eggs lightly, slowly starting to incorporate flour. When the mixture can no longer be stirred, begin to knead. Knead until the dough is smooth, adding flour if too wet. Roll out thinly with a rolling pin, or ideally, a pasta machine. Cut into squares for making tortellini.
Remove leaves from stalks of chard, save stalks for another use (like the gratin below). Rinse very thoroughly. Place in a pot with any water that clings to them, add a generous pinch of salt, cover and cook on low. When the greens are wilted, 5-10 minutes, drain as well as possible. Squeeze to extract extra moisture. Chop finely. Saute the onion and bacon in the butter until the meat is cooked and the onion is translucent. Add the chopped chard and stir on low heat until all butter is absorbed. Remove from heat and mix with ricotta, egg yolk, parmesan, and a small grating of nutmeg. Taste and correct for salt as needed.
Place a small amount of filling on each square. Fold over diagonally, then pull the corners together to form the typical tortellini shape. Boil a large pot of salted water, and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add tortellini, in batches if needed to avoid crowding. When the pasta rises to the top of the pot, it is usually done.
Butter and Sage Sauce (for above pasta):
- 4 tbsp butter
- 8 sage leaves, fresh if possible
- freshly grated parmesan for serving
Heat butter on medium heat until foaming. Add sage, and cook very briefly. Immediately toss with pasta.
Chard Stalk Gratin with Parmesan (serves 4):
- stalks from 1 bunch chard
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
Smear a baking dish with butter. Chop chard stems and boil until tender. Place stalks in dish, sprinkle with salt and cheese, dot with a small amount of extra butter. Repeated layers can be used if needed. Bake at 400* F for 10-15 minutes, or until bubbly and golden on top.
Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (4 servings):
- 1 piece white bread (good quality)
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tbsp onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
- black pepper
- bread crumbs
- neutral oil for frying
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
Remove crust from bread, place in a saucepan with milk. Heat on low. When bread has soaked up all milk, mash. Let cool. Mix meat, onion, parsley, egg, olive oil, parmesan, a small grating of nutmeg, bread mash, salt, and black pepper. Gently mix and knead the mixture. Form 1 inch meatballs and roll in breadcrumbs. Place oil in a pan on medium-high heat, then brown meatballs all over. Remove from heat, drain off excess oil, then add tomatoes and their juice with a pinch of salt. Add the meatballs and turn to coat. Cover the pan and cook on low for 25 minutes, until the meat is cooked through.