Swiss Chard and Ricotta Agnolotti

Last night I had a couple of friends over to celebrate a birthday.  I had already planned the peanut butter and chocolate mousse pie as a birthday gift.  Then the opportunitypresented itself to do the whole dinner!  Excellent.  I wanted something special, but given my relatively late start, that wouldn’t take too, too long.  I decided on agnolotti made from wonton wrappers.  I’m trying to make healthier choices so I chose a vegetarian filling.  Finally a use for the rest of the swiss chard, slightly past its prime.  And another use for the yummy ricotta that I made.  The stuffing was homemade and each dumpling filled by hand, but I didn’t have to make the pasta – special, but not all day, perfect.

The recipe I found called for spinach instead of chard, but that was an easy substitution.  Other than that I followed the recipe for the pasta.  Filling 36 wonton wrappers is not so easy, but I got better as I went along.  I ended up making about 42 to get 36 good ones.  For the first few I put the filling a little toward the front and then folded the wrapper toward me and pressed down the moistened edges to seal.  I found that the filling tended to get away from me and my fingernails punched holes in a few as I tried to seal them.  A more successful approach was to put the filling in the middle; put a little water all the way around the edges; pick up the whole wonton wrapper; and pinch the edges with both hands.  It also helped to put the filling in a colander and press out some of the extra liquid.  I put the finished ones in a big tupperware container and separated the layers with waxed paper.  If you let them overlap too much they’ll stick together and it will be hard to separate them without tearing them.

The cooking part is easy.  Boil a big pot of water and cook the agnolotti in batches.  Just a few at a time for about 3 minutes and then spoon them out with a slotted spoon.  Bring the water back to a boil and add a few more.  Lay the cooked ones out on a cookie sheet and cover them with a slightly dampened towel.  Put them in a a slightly heated oven to keep them warm until they’re all ready for serving.  Serve them in pasta bowls topped with tomato sauce and a little parmesan.

These are really yummy.  The chard has enough earthiness to it to balance out the creamy ricotta and tangy tomato sauce.  It also holds up a little better than spinach when it’s cooked.  It maintained some of its chewy texture which kept the filling from being too soft.    I served a plain green salad on the side with a honey citrus vinaigrette.  Dinner done.  Elegant and yummy.

Good? Very good.
Easy? No, time consuming and delicate.
Good for company? Pretty impressive I think.
Special shopping? Nope. Standard stuff.

Swiss Chard & Ricotta Agnolotti

Ingredients

8 cups fresh swiss chard leaves, stemmed
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg white
36 won ton wrappers

Directions

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add chard; cover and cook 2 minutes or until chard wilts. Remove chard from pan. Drain.

Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan and place over medium heat until hot. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add chard; sauté 3 minutes. Place chard mixture in food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped. Combine chard mixture, ricotta, Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and egg white in a medium bowl.

Working with 1 won ton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep them from drying), spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons spinach mixture into center of each wrapper. Moisten edges of dough with water; fold in half, pinching edges together to seal. Place filled won tons on wax paper in an airtight container; chill for 2 hours.

Cook filled won tons in batches in boiling water until they float to the surface (about 3 minutes); remove with a slotted spoon, and keep warm. Spoon tomato sauce over pasta.

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