Baked Ziti with Swiss Chard

baked ziti inside

This is a lighter version of the traditional baked ziti, which is usually loaded with cheese and sausage. As I don’t eat red meat anymore, I substituted ground turkey for the sausage. I made this during the Coronavirus shelter in place, using whatever I had in the kitchen. I only had 1/2 cup each of mozarella and parmesan and I substituted penne pasta for ziti. (Penne are narrower than ziti , have ridges and are cut at an angle, thus resembling a quill pen.) I added flavorful red chard to up the healthy lightness. It came out cheesy enough and we had enough for several meals.

red chard

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. ground turkey (half of a pound package)
  • 1/2  onion, finely chopped
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • A few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary needles, finely chopped
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • 14-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes (they are the best, but if you can’t find them, use what you can)
  • 1 bunch red Swiss chard, rinsed thoroughly and chopped roughly, Chop the stems about 1/2 inch diameter.
  • 8 oz. ziti or penne pasta (1/2 box)
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 350′

Heat olive oil in a medium-large pan until it shimmers. Add ground turkey and cook on high for a few minutes to brown the meat. Add onion, chard, and salt, cover and cook on low for 15 minutes until they are soft and the onions are translucent. Add garlic and seasonings and stir for a few minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook on low for another 15 minutes. You can make the sauce ahead of time.

While sauce is cooking, boil a medium-large covered pot of salted water. Stir in the pasta, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, until it is al dente. Add 2 tablespoons of pasta water to the sauce. The starch in the water will help emulsify the sauce. Drain pasta, then stir the pasta and the sauce together in the large pot.

Oil a casserole dish. Add a third of the pasta mix, then top with 1/4 cup of the combined cheeses. Repeat with the next layer. After you add the last layer of pasta, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn  the broiler on high and broil for 5 minutes until the cheese is a golden brown. It is even better the next day after the flavors meld.

baked ziti

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Chard with Arabic spices and Israeli couscous

Somewhere over the rainbow,
In my backyard,
Growing green, red, and yellow,
Organic rainbow chard.

My daughter and I invented this recipe together on Mother’s Day. We started in the backyard where we are growing rainbow chard. This grows in red, white and yellow colors.

We chop it, stems and all, and sauté with onions, shallots, garlic, mushrooms and lemon, and add  the Arabic spices sumac and coriander. When the vegetables are tender, we stir into Israeli couscous. We garnish it with cilantro, and toasted pine nuts.

Israeli couscous or Maftoul,  is shaped like small pearls and is chewier than its Moroccan cousin. I cook it in broth Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version). You can make this dish vegan by using the vegetable broth.

If only achieving peace in the Holy Land was as easy as blending Palestinian and Israeli cuisines!

Serves 6 side dishes:

Israeli couscous:
1 ½ cups Israeli couscous
1 ¾ broth (chicken or vegetable)
½ teaspoon salt to taste
2 Tb  lemon juice (Meyer lemon is nice)
Vegetables:
1 bunch chard: 10 -12 leaves and stems, washed
10 mushrooms
2 large cloves shallots, minced
1 onion, quartered and sliced thin
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sumac
2 tsp zataar or dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup broth
Zest of 1  lemon (Meyer is best)
 
Garnish:
¼  cup pine nuts
2 Tb cilantro leaves
 

Boil 2 cups broth in a medium saucepan with salt and lemon juice. Remove ¼ cup and reserve.

While broth is coming to a boil, toast the Israeli couscous in a  skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently about 7 minutes until golden-brown. Add it to the 1 3/4 cups broth and cover. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes  until couscous is tender.

While  couscous is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Quarter the onion, then slice thinly.  Heat 2 Tb olive oil in heavy frying pan. Add onions, sumac, coriander, zataar or thyme, and salt. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent.

 

Cut mushrooms into quarters and add to onions.

Mince garlic and shallots and add to the onions. Sauté them a few minutes until they turn golden.

Slice the chard stems thinly, and chop the leaves. Add to the onion mixture with the reserved broth, lemon juice and zest. Mix well and cover pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chard softens.

Toss with the Israeli couscous. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh cilantro leaves if desired.