Cheesy Baked Chard Rigatoni {gluten-free}

Cheesy, vegetarian, gluten-free baked pasta deliciousness adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Old-School Baked Ziti. A few good ingredients will make this dish extra-delicious: gluten-free pasta, tomatoes preserved in glass jars rather than cans, and whole-milk ricotta. I’ve linked to my favorites of each below. If you don’t have chard handy, use spinach or another green in its place and skip the business about the stems.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: The Bojon Gourmet

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches Swiss chard, any color
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, (30 ml)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano , (or handful basil leaves, chopped)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 32-36 ounces canned or jarred tomato passata, puree, or crushed tomatoes (I like a combination of this one, which is extra-thick, and this one), (about 4 cups / 1 liter, or a little more)
  • 12 ounces dry gluten-free rigatoni, penne, or other large tubular pasta (I use this), (340 g)
  • 8 ounces grated dry, whole-milk mozzarella, (2 cups / 225 g)
  • 2 ounces lightly packed grated parmesan, (¾ cup / 55 g)
  • 12-16 ounces best-quality whole-milk ricotta (I like this one), (340 g)

Instructions

  • Position a rack in upper third of the oven and preheat to 425ºF.
  • Rinse the chard leaves and stems well of any sandy grit. Use a sharp knife to slice the leaves off of the chard stems. Tear the leaves into large pieces and set aside. Slice the stems thinly crosswise, about ¼ - ½-inch thick. If either are still sandy, soak them separately in bowls of cool water, swishing occasionally and letting the sand fall to the bottom, then lift out the leaves / stems and shake dry.
  • Place the oil in a wide, non-reactive skillet large enough to hold all of the sauce and place over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the chard stems, onion, garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden and the chard stems are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the passata or crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is quite thick, 15 - 20 minutes, or longer if needed.
  • While the sauce cooks, fill a large pot partway with water and 1 heaping tablespoon salt and bring to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook, stirring occasionally, until still quite firm, about 2-3 minutes short of al dente. The pasta will cook further when the sauce is added and we don’t want it to get soggy. When the pasta is done, drain it and rinse briefly with cool water to stop the cooking. Drain well and set aside.
  • Put the chard leaves in the now empty pot, add a splash of water, cover the pot, and set over a medium-low flame. Cook until the chard is wilted and bright green, 3-5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Drain the chard, rinse with cool water, and squeeze dry; it will have reduced dramatically in volume. Chop coarsely.
  • In a large bowl, toss together the pasta and sauce. Place half of this mixture in a 9x13-inch pan or other large baking vessel and cover with all of the chard. Dollop with all the ricotta and sprinkle with half of the parmesan and mozzarella. Cover with the remaining pasta and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan, then the mozzarella. (Hint: the more messy pasta ends you leave sticking out all over the place, the more crispy edges you’ll have to eat.)
  • Place in the oven and bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is bronzed, 15-20 minutes. Serve hot, finished with a little extra parmesan and oregano if you like.
  • Leftovers keep well, refrigerated airtight, for up to 5 days. Reheat in a 350ºF oven until hot.

Notes

Nutritional values are based on one of eight servings.

Nutrition

Calories: 425kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 736mg | Potassium: 716mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 59% | Vitamin C: 27.6% | Calcium: 35.5% | Iron: 19.9%
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