We wanted a nice comforting meal last Sunday that we could cook without having to think too much. We were having a lazy weekend and needed a carb load to jumpstart the week the next morning. This meal proved to be just that. Tasty, warm, comforting, and super cheesy. We made some alterations off a Giada recipe we found so that we could use some of our garden fresh greens and herbs.
Wait isn't that a cauliflower plant? Yes it is, but cauliflower is really just a cabbage that has been genetically modified to have a flower that we eat. It's science. So yea, we can eat the leaves, and they are DELICIOUS. Also science.
I have made ricotta before, so I'm not going to get too into the process today, but the fresh homemade cheese is what made this dish spectacular.
It's always a special moment when you pull that first strainerfull of ricotta out of the pot.
This is a nice shot to show you the separation of the curds and whey. Its soo easy to make this cheese. I recommend it to everyone. Check out my old post of it here, or the place I learned it from here. I suggest her buttermilk method, because I have had bad luck with the lemon method often suggested by others.
After your ricotta strains, be sure to salt it well! This is what really brings out the delicious cheese flavor. I'm sure you won't have trouble tasting it for proper seasonings. I also put some fresh oregano in here.
Some of our fresh chard from the garden to mix with the cauliflower leaves. This is going to be the filling for the shells.
Bacon makes things taste good. The stems of the greens are in here with the bacon and onions.
At this point, add the garlic and fry it for about 3 minutes. Then add a cup of cool water. quickly try and scrape all of the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. This will form a beautiful brown bacony gravy. Let it cook for 3 minutes to reduce a lot of the water.
Peas are beautiful right now, so keep those frozen ones in the freeze and buy some fresh pods!
Cauliflower and Chard in the pan.
Chard mix into the ricotta. Yum
Pre cook the shells for about half the time. Don't worry if some get broken up a little.
Then just stuff 'em!
This quick sauce is just milk, cream and Fontina. It also has parsley and oregano. We then topped it with mozzarella and parm. This was cheese paradise.
This is after 30 minutes in the oven.
Super tasty, super comforting. Make this meal this weekend!
This is a great meal, made even better with the fresh ricotta. We based it on this Giada recipe with a few tweaks. We used the stems of the chard, putting them into the pan with the onions. We added bacon, cooking that at the beginning and using the bacon fat to cook the onions etc. We made fresh ricotta and we used parsley and oregano in place of basil because that's what we had. And of course we used those tasty cauliflower leaves. You can sub cabbage for that, or just use more chard. Oh yea, and we used shells instead of cannelloni because they are much easier to stuff!!! Make my version, make her version, make your own version, just make it!!! Side note: What's up with Giada calling this a winter recipe? There are peas and fresh greens in it! Sounds like Spring to me.