*This post has been written in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and the California Milk Advisory Board. We received compensation for it, but the recipe and stories are our own.*
These past few days people have been celebrating many graduations all around the country, and I have been lucky to be part of all the excitement. Two weeks ago, my son, Eduardo, graduated from his Masters Degree. There are no words to describe the happiness and pride I feel for him, and I can understand what many parents like me have felt, looking at their kids pursuing their dreams and making them true.
For this occasion, we started the party with a few bottles of Champagne, and many different kinds of cupcakes. And then, after a much deserved nap, my son woke up ready to celebrate some more. In Peru there’s a strong Italian culinary influence, and pasta dishes are a favorite in many homes, including ours. So for this special day, I planned to make chard cannelloni, filled with ricotta and chard, covered in tomato sauce and topped with Parmesan cheese. It is delicious and feeds a crowd easily, served with a nice green salad on the side.
I had been wanting to share this recipe here for quite a while, but for one reason or another, it never happened. This was the perfect occasion to prepare and photograph it, since we spent the day with my son’s wife and in-laws. They come from an Italian family and some of the Italian/Peruvian recipes in our book, The Everything Peruvian Cookbook, are old recipes that we got from them (including the cannelloni recipe).
Hugo, my son’s father-in-law, is a firm believer that the best way to make this dish is using cow’s brains in the filling to get the perfect texture and flavor, something that my vegetarian daughter would never forgive me! This is the best example of an entrée that can easily be turned vegetarian.
For me, ricotta is the best part of the filling, made with sautéed chard in olive oil and garlic. A sprinkling of nutmeg adds an amazing flavor to the mixture. I used Real California Cheese, as this post was made in collaboration with them. I´ve been finding it more an more often in the supermarket isles, and was very curious to try their ricotta. What I got was mildly sweet and creamy, ideal for the filling of this dish. Next time I´ll be sure to try their Latin cheeses. As it turns out, California is the leading producer of Hispanic dairy products. Yum! (Have I ever mentioned my daughter and I are crazy about cheese?)
In the event that you have leftovers (which I don´t think is possible), cover the dish with plastic film or foil, and reheat as needed in the microwave or in the oven.
- Olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 bunches rainbow chard
- ½ pound Californian Ricotta
- ½ pound Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 pound lasagna pasta or cannelloni pasta
- In a saucepan pour about ⅓ cup olive oil and heat over medium heat.
- Add garlic and onion and cook for five minutes. Add tomatoes and dried oregano and cook until the vegetables are falling apart. Season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature. If you want a smooth texture you may process the tomatoes in the blender.
- In another saucepan heat about ⅓ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and the chopped chard stems. When they are tender add the chopped leaves and cook until wilted, stirring every now and then. Season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the chard to a bowl, add Californian Ricotta, ½ the Parmesan cheese, egg, and nutmeg. Stir and taste for seasoning.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Boil the pasta for about 4 minutes, or until al dente. You should be able to roll it in the shape of cannelloni without it breaking.
- Put on a flat surface, and place about 2 tablespoons of filling along one of the shorter edges. Roll in the shape of a tube, and place in an oiled pyrex or baking pan. (If using cannelloni pasta, just fill them in).
- Put the cannelloni next to one another covering the whole baking dish. Cover the cannelloni with tomato sauce, then with Parmesan cheese.
- Bake until the cheese is bubbling and light brown in some spots. Take the pan out of the oven and rest for 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately.