Chard is one of those leafy greens everyone should eat more of. It’s actually as delicious in winter as in summer and provides calcium and all sorts of other nutrients and has a bit more body than spinach (but can be used in much the same ways with a little extra cook time).
My son loves spinach pasta (which appears in an earlier post “My kids loves spinach” http://hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/my-kid-loves-spinach/) and never notices the difference when I serve the chard variation. He especially digs in when I use curly, frilly or curvy pasta that he can get his eager litle fingers all over– I am attributing that to a chromosomal enthusiastic male response to visual stimuli that I have been hearing a lot about lately. That’s hot!
It is also fast and easy and really hearty-comforting.
Chard Pesto for Pasta (serves four)
1 lb. fiore (pinwheel) pasta
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3-5 cloves garlic, chopped
(1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes, optional)
1 lb. chard, washed, stems removed and chopped fine*
1 Cup broth or water
Salt and pepper to taste
Several Tbs grated cheese (preferably parmigiano reggiano or gran padano) or crumbled feta or, why not both?
Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a generous skillet with a cover. Add garlic and stir around for a minute or until turning golden and fragrant. Add hot red pepper flakes if desired. Add chard and stir to coat. Sauté chard until bright and beginning to wilt, then add water or broth. Bring to a simmer and cover, turning occasionally. The idea is for the chard to really soften, which will take 10-15 minutes. If you run out of cooking liquid, add a ladleful of water from the pasta pot. If I want the chard really fine (to encourage more consumption by my toddler, I will spread the cooked chard on a cutting board and chop some more when it is a bit cool.
Drain pasta and mix with sauce and a generous amount of grated cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
*Save the stems, chop and use in another recipe; they are delicious as part of a stir-fry or just sautéed with onions to top burgers.