Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti

I was recently in Austin and had the pleasure of going to one of the local farmer's markets with my friends Lindsey and Allison.  I find it very exciting to pick up a fresh ingredient and try it in a new dish.  We had just been thumbing through Giada de Laurentis's newest cookbook, "Giada's Kitchen," and thought this Swiss Chard & Sweet Pea Manicotti looked wonderful.  However, I knew nothing about swiss chard.  Well, it must have been serendipity when we happened upon just that at the farmer's market... fresh rainbow swiss chard.  I had never seen a green so colorful and we decided it was just what we should pick up to try this recipe.  When we returned home, we noticed the recipe called for white or red swiss chard, but I have to say the recipe was amazing with our rainbow colored variety!  
I have always been pleased with Giada's recipes so we thought this had to be good.  However, if you are going to make it, I will tell you right now it is not on the cheap or quick list.  With all of the cheeses, this dish can be a little pricey (if you are on the thrifty side).  However, after having it, I can definitely say it would be worth making for company!  Check the recipe notes for a couple adjustments we made to make this dish a little more reasonable.  Bottom Line:  Very delicious dish, but be willing to spend some time and a few extra bucks!
Thanks for the fun afternoon gals! And thank you to Richard, the grower of this swiss chard, for taking our picture... we owe you one!
Swiss Chard & Sweet Pea Manicotti
Recipe Adapted from "Giada's Kitchen" by Giada de Laurentis
12 Manicotti, 4 to 6 servings
Recipe Notes:  The cheeses in this dish can make it kind of expensive.  We substituted a cheese called “fontal” for the fontina.  It was a similar cheese that was a little less rich, but was half the cost.  While we never tried it with the fontina, the dish seemed very flavorful and not lacking at all.   This recipe calls for a pastry bag.  If you do not have one or don't want to mess with it, you can fill a plastic bag and cut off the tip like we did below.  Make sure you cut a very small hole so that it easily fits in the pasta shell.
Butter, for greasing the pan
12 manicotti or cannelloni pasta shells
1 bunch (12 oz) red, white or rainbow swiss chard… about 10 large leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (white will work too)
1 garlic clove
1 15 oz container whole-milk ricotta cheese
¾ cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
¾ cup (2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh basil
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fontina Fonduta Sauce
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
3 cups (6 oz) grated fontina cheese (or fonduta for a cheaper version)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 ½ cups (6 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
Step by Step
Dish prep
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; heavily grease a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with butter.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil; heavily salt.
  3. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.
For the Filling
  1. Using kitchen scissors, a knife or gently tearing, remover the swiss chard stems.  You want to only have the tender leaves.  Chop the leaves into one inch pieces and discard of the stems. 
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer, then add the swiss chard leaves and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  4. Place the ricotta cheese, peas, mozarella, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the cooled chard mixture and blend until smooth.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared pastry bag and stuff each manicotti shell with the filling.  If using a ziploc bag, fill bag with chard filling.  Then cut a very small hole in one corner and fill shells.  Place the stuffed manicotti in the prepared baking dish.
  1. In a medium- heavy saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low.  Add the fontina cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese and basil.
  2. Pour the sauce over the stuffed manicotti and sprinkle with the 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden.  Let the baked manicotti stand for 5 minutes before serving.
This dish is great for leftovers as well!


  1. I think the farmer's market is the best place to buy ingredients... that is beautiful swiss chard!

  2. Yessss....the blog I've been waiting for. Oh how I loved lugging that rainbow chard across Austin through the rain & heat. If we only knew we could pick it for free outside of Daily Juice :)

  3. I love seeing this idea for a pastry bag. I never make anything with one of those because I don't have one, but this looks perfect! Thanks for the tip!

  4. That was such a fun day. Ash, all of your recipes & ideas are so good and creative. You are a natural. "Hope for a future" for me, for sure.

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