Monday, June 13, 2011

Swiss Chard Pasta--Peppery Feast

Whenever I have no idea what to cook for dinner, pasta always comes to my rescue. Especially on a busy day, pasta seems the best idea for an easy and light dinner. Vegetable-based pasta meals are my favorites as they can be made from practically any vegetables.

It is almost impossible to come up with an idea for a pasta that the Italians have not yet come up with, but recently I heard about pasta with Swiss chard. I ate Swiss chard a coupe of times, also in Indian dishes, but never with pasta. The idea seemed tempting, as Swiss chard is inexpensive, available most of the year, in particular in the Asian food stores, and healthy as a source of vitamins K, A, and C, and thirteen antioxidants. All in all pasta with Swiss chard seemed like a desirable addition to my pasta menu.

I noticed that Swiss chard has been very popular recently and, especially on many food blogs, people are trying to come up with new ideas on how to use that healthy vegetable.

So when I saw beautiful bunches of colorful Swiss chard in a grocery store I visit weekly, I bought one of them. For the first time I cooked Swiss chard myself and for the first time I made pasta with chard, inspired by a recipe from Metropolitan Home. The recipe called for adding a tbsp of Aleppo, Maras, or Urfa pepper, or pimento de la Vera, but I omitted that step as pasta with such spices could be to strong for kids, but it is said that those peppers will add a lot of flavor to this already well-defined, peppery tasting dish.

Swiss Chard and Olives Pasta
Serves 4-6

1 bunch of Swiss chard,
1 lb (one box) Ziti pasta,
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced,
5 garlic cloves, sliced,
10 to 15 black olives, cured in brine, sliced,
3 tomatoes chopped,
1/2 cup basil or flat leaved parsley, chopped,
1/3 cup olive oil,
1/4 cup toested pine nuts,
salt and pepper,
grated Parmesan,
1 tbsp Aleppo, Maras, or Urfa pepper, or pimento de la Vera.

1. Cut out leaves from the stalks and blanch them for about 1 minute in a large pot of boiling water. Drain, chop, and set aside.
2. Cook pasta in a pot of 4 quarters of water with a tbsp salt, until al dente.
3. Meanwhile. heat the oil, garlic, and onion over medium heat in a large saute pan stirring constantly for 5 to 7 minutes, until slightly brown.
4. Add to the pan blanched chard, olives, tomatoes, basil or parsley, pine nuts, salt, pepper and Aleppo paper if used.Cook stirring until mixture is just bubbling,about 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Drain the pasta, add to the pan with chard mixture and stir to combine.
6. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve at once.

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