Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Swiss Chard Ragu with Penne

I am really starting to love my greens. I never thought I would love broccoli rabe, kale, chard, or dandelion greens.  But I very much do love them. I love kale chips, braised kale, sauteed broccoli rabe, and most of all, I love my Swiss chard- especially in a leek and Swiss chard galette. It is so tender and melts in your mouth but it holds up well without getting mushy. If you shy away from greens because of the bitterness, consider taking a second look at Swiss Chard. It is wonderfully tasty, earthy, mild, and slightly sweet.

I am constantly finding excuses to cook greens and this is another easy weeknight meal- penne with swiss chard ragu, green garlic (or regular garlic), parmesan, and toasted bread crumbs (of course).The ragu melts beautifully in your mouth.

Pennette with Swiss Chard Ragu (Adapted from Mario Batali's Molto Gusto)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, halved and sliced 1/4" thick
1-2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled (I used 1 large green garlic instead)
1/2 pound Swiss Chard, trimmed and sliced 1/4" thick
maldon or other flaky sea salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
coarsely ground black pepper
kosher salt
1/2 lb pennette (small penne) pasta or other small pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving

For bread crumbs:
1-2 slices of bread
1 tbsp olive oil

Tear the bread into chunks, and pulse in a food processor until coarse crumbs are formed. You want 1/2 cup. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet, and, when hot, add the bread. Cook, stirring, until the crumbs are lightly browned. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Combine the remaining 2 tbsp oil, onion, garlic and chard in a large pot, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion and chard begins to soften, about five minutes. Season well with sea salt, add 1/4 cup water, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is very tender, about 20 minutes. Add the butter, stirring until it melts, then season with pepper and remove from heat.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add the kosher salt. Drop in the pasta, and cook until just al dente (done, but still firm).

Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to the chard, and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated. If necessary, add a splash or two more of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce. Stir in the cheese.

Transfer to a serving bowl, and scatter the toasted breadcrumbs over the top. Serve with additional grated cheese on the side.

Serves 3-4.


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