Eat your greens!
I don’t know how many times my mother, Loretta, would tell me “Eat your greens” – when I was growing up. Greens were a staple in our house. We had them all sorts of ways and most of them – sadly, I hated until I matured and grew a “palate”! However, one of those greens, Swiss Chard, always passed the taste test with me. Swiss chard is sweeter than most greens and can be used for — well – everything. Here, I offer PASTA WITH SWISS CHARD, which will more than surprise you in flavor and enjoyment, while at the same time presenting a healthy choice for dining.
My mother used to make a lovely concoction of Swiss Chard and tomatoes and served it over rice – which, by the way, she strangely preferred to pasta. Whenever she cooked it, I cheered, as I loved it so much. No meat – but amazingly satisfying anyway.
I suppose you could throw some meat into PASTA WITH SWISS CHARD – but you don’t really need it. The greens and tomatoes do all the work here, and trust me on this one – you carnivores won’t miss it. This is a light pasta dish – but no one goes home hungry – and yes – a perfect dish for a meal on the patio! Almost any pasta will do. If you prefer something long and stringy – go for the spaghetti types. I like a chunkier pasta with this – a penne, ziti, rigatoni –or even tortelloni – yum!
Italians and greens: Italians have had a long love affair with greens. From the noted “peasant dishes” harvested from individual family gardens to the more complex stuffed and creative items of haute cuisine, Italians have incorporated them in their cooking for centuries. They eat them as sides – they make pasta with them – they use them in soups and on and on. It can be said that greens are one of the most common of staples found at the Italian table.
About Swiss Chard: For those unfamiliar, Swiss Chard is a green vegetable sold in bunches. You’ll find it with green veins, red, veins, or “rainbow” veins and stalks (red and yellow). They are very pretty to cook with. You can use any of these varieties for this recipe.
Working with Swiss Chard: Swiss Chard is so easy to use. It doesn’t need much prep. First, you should always clean it by rinsing or soaking in water – then draining. The chard is usually sandy so you’ll need to do the rinsing. It takes just a couple of minutes. I like to lay it out on paper towels to dry if I’m not using it immediately. You can use just the leaves, if you like. You simply tear them off the stalks into pieces. If you want to use the stems – they are quite tasty and can be chopped and used along with the leaves. Your choice. OR – you can tear the leaves off and use them alone.
Looking for something quick and easy? This is your huckleberry!
So in honor of every time you heard “eat your greens” growing up – let’s eat as the Italians do, and dive into a healthy and incredibly delectable pasta experience!
PASTA WITH SWISS CHARD
Makes: enough for a pound of pasta
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: About 25 minutes
1 lb. Pasta cooked according to taste – I prefer a chunky variety like ziti, penne, rigatoni, tortelloni
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Large Clove garlic – chopped finely
1 Large Bunch Swiss Chard – green, red veined, or rainbow (yellow and red) – cleaned – chop stalks, if using and tear the leaves into pieces
3 C. Chopped tomatoes – 2 14 oz. Cans or 1 28 oz. Can works. If tomatoes are whole – chop them or pull them apart with your hands!
Piece of rind of any delicious Italian cheese if you have one – adds soooo much flavor
1/8 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Some Fresh Parsley – chopped
Grated cheese for serving – your choice of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Grana Padano suggested
Clean your chard by soaking or rinsing and draining.
Chop your Swiss Chard as explained above in the ingredients section.
Place the olive oil in a large pan and add the garlic. Cook over medium heat for just a minute – do not brown or burn.
Add the Swiss Chard, tomatoes, rind, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.
Simmer at medium high until most of the liquid has cooked off, turning occasionally. This takes about 20 minutes. You should have a thick and concentrated sauce with the greens left.
Toss with the pasta.
Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, or Grana Padano.
Just want to share that my husband is one of those carnivores who thinks meat is necessary in every dish. This PASTA WITH SWISS CHARD is hands down one of his favorite dishes.. and he never misses the meat!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography