Chicken with cheese and Swiss chard honeycomb cannelloni

Swiss chard is fabulously healthy.

I love the change in the seasons and, as much as I will miss the delicate sweetness of summer berries, I look forward to all the earthy flavours that autumn greens bring. This week, I’ve concentrated on Swiss chard, which is fabulously healthy, although, somewhat oddly, not actually a cultivar of Switzerland.

Chicken with cheese and Swiss chard honeycomb cannelloni (serves 4)

Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
400g chicken breasts
200g Swiss chard
A handful fresh basil and parsley, chopped

25g butter
25g flour
600ml whole milk
100g grated mature Cheddar
75g mascarpone

500g cannelloni tubes, dried

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Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4, butter the inside of a deep sided, ovenproof dish (you could also use deep-sided individual dishes), then gently cook the onion in a large frying pan with a splash of olive oil until soft, but not browned, before adding the crushed garlic and frying for a few more minutes.

Finely chop the chicken breast so it’s almost minced, then cook the stalks of the Swiss chard for a few minutes followed by the leaves and seasoning and mix everything well together.

In a separate pan, melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux, then slowly add the milk and heat until thickened, add the grated cheese and fold in the mascarpone with some more seasoning, before adding half of the mixture to the chicken.

Tip the chicken in sauce into the base of the buttered ovenproof dish, arrange the cannelloni vertically on top, then pour the rest of the sauce into the tubes from above and layer with slices of the mozzarella until it’s entirely covered.

Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until gently browned, and serve immediately with lightly dressed salad leaves.

More ways with Swiss chard

Chicken with cheese and Swiss chard honeycomb cannelloniSpeedy Swiss-chard supper (left)
Fry a red onion in a large frying pan with olive oil, add a tablespoon of harissa paste and mix well, then add the stalks from a couple of handfuls of Swiss chard and fry gently for a few minutes. Add a drained can of chickpeas, half a can of tomatoes, a squeeze of tomato ketchup and some chopped Swiss-chard leaves. Mix well to combine the flavours, season, then make wells in the mixture and crack eggs into the spaces. Continue to fry until the eggs are cooked but still soft and serve immediately.

Swiss-chard and feta turnovers
Remove the stalks from two large handfuls of Swiss chard and chop into a bowl. Fry a chopped onion in olive oil in a large frying pan until soft, add the Swiss chard and toss until wilted, before adding a generous amount of grated Parmesan, a squeeze of lemon and seasoning. Next, brush shop-bought sheets of filo pastry with melted butter (one at a time, making sure to cover the waiting sheets with a damp tea towel so they don’t dry out), then place a spoonful of the mixture onto the corner of the filo before folding to form a neat triangular parcel. Repeat with the remaining Swiss-chard mixture, then bake in a moderately hot oven for 25–30 minutes.

A side of Swiss chard
Remove the stalks from a couple of handfuls of Swiss chard and chop, then cook, with a splash of olive oil in a lidded pan until wilted. Stir through a scattering of toasted pine nuts and a chopped chilli, crumble in a little feta, season well, then serve.