Cannelloni with Swiss Chard and Walnuts

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 7 tablespoons flour, all-purpose
  • 2 cups milk, whole
  • 1 cup cream, heavy
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
  • 1 swiss chard, trimmed and chopped
  • 3/4 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 egg, large, well-beaten
  • 8 savory crepes
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

For the cream sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring frequently, to make a blond roux, about 5 minutes. Whisk milk and cream into roux. Bring cream sauce back to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg, if using. Reduce heat and allow sauce to simmer, stirring frequently, until it is thickened and no longer tastes floury, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until limp and translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add chard by the handful, sautéing just until wilted before adding more. Once all of the chard is added to the pan, sauté until it is deep green, tender, and softened, 3-4 minutes more. Drain mixture, if necessary, and season generously with salt and pepper.

Blend 1 cup of cream sauce with Gruyère, walnuts, brandy, and egg in a bowl. Fold in sautéed chard to make a filling for the cannelloni.

To prepare the cannelloni, spread 2 tablespoons of filling over the center of each crêpe and roll into a cylinder. Place cannelloni, seam side down, in a buttered 9 x 13-inch flameproof baking dish. Ladle remaining cream sauce over cannelloni. Sprinkle Parmesan evenly over the top.

Bake cannelloni until heated through, 25-30 minutes. If desired, brown parmesan lightly under broiler just before serving.

Yield: 4 servings