Stuffed Chard with Fresh Marinara

In Patricia Wells’s book, Trattoria, she writes that many pasta dishes remind her of the Italian flag with its “proud red, green, and white” colors.

This dish is certainly that.

This recipe is an adaptation of one that I found on the Eating Well website. Since starting our meat CSA, we have been quickly accumulating ground beef recipes beyond the usual suspects (hamburgers, chili, meatloaf, tacos, meatballs).

This recipe satisfies all my criteria for a great meal at home: it uses seasonal vegetables, it is not overly complicated, it is quick to put together yet looks like I spent hours in the kitchen, and it is beautiful on the plate. Most importantly? It tastes wonderful.

I have altered the recipe slightly, using fresh herbs and garlic in the meat mixture instead of dried  I have also left the dried herbs out of the sauce, their presence being a pet peeve of mine. I like to see my marinara un-flecked with dirty-looking specks of dusty leaves. If I had to do it again, I might use less panko and employ a softer touch when forming the meat so that it crumbles a little more in the mouth.

As you can see, I am a giant fan of my Microplane grater, which makes gorgeous fluffy clouds of fragrant Parmesan.


1 pound lean ground beef (Go High Point Farms CSA!)

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 medium shallots, minced, divided

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced, divided

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Pinches of salt and freshly ground pepper

8 large Swiss chard leaves, stems removed

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more if you prefer)

1 28-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen’s Fire-Roasted Tomatoes)

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

How to prepare:

1. Gently mix the beef, breadcrumbs, 1/2 of the shallots, 1/2 of the garlic, the oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and ground black pepper in a large bowl until just combined. Roughly divide the mixture into 8 oblong 3-inch portions.

2. Overlap the two sides of a chard leaf where the stem has been removed and place a portion of beef there. You may need to adjust the amount of meat you stuff in each leaf, depending on how big the leaves are. Tightly roll the chard around the beef. Place each roll, seam-side down, in a large nonstick skillet. Pour in broth, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a roll reads 165°F.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/2 of the shallots and garlic. Stirring often, cook until the shallots and garlic are soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper to taste and cook for a few seconds longer, but don’t let the pepper burn. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat a little bit and add the balsamic vinegar. Continue to simmer the sauce until it is reduced and thickened to your liking.  Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.

4. To serve, remove the chard rolls from its broth bath with tongs. You can discard the broth afterwards. Top the rolls with sauce and Parmesan cheese, if desired — and why wouldn’t you?

Tip: Start removing the chard stems by folding each leaf in half. Beginning at a point at the top of the leaf where the stem looks skinny and pliable enough to not have to remove, sever the tender part of the stem from the thicker part with a small cut. Separate the leaf from the stem by moving your knife parallel to the stem’s length, including the widest section of the rib at the base of the leaf.

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the chard rolls in the sauce; reheat in a covered baking dish at 350°F for about 10 minutes.


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