Tag Archives: chard

Spinach or Chard or Kale Pasta – the fastest pasta in my arsenal

15 May

When it is crunch time – 5:30 p.m. and nothing planned for dinner, or 10 p.m. and nothing made for Leandro’s lunchbox, I do not despair. As long as there is a bag, or half bag of frozen spinach or chard or kale in the fridge, a box of pasta and some garlic (and there pretty much always is), I am good to go.

Leafy greens are powerhouses in the veggie world. Kale provides calcium, Vitamins A, C, and K, potassium and folate. Chard has vitamins A and D. Spinach has iron. And best of all, my son, who I started on garlicky, cheesy pureed spinach on pasta as one of his first solids, doesn’t really differentiate among them, so I can vary at will. Start your kids on the good stuff early, I am telling you!

Second best of all? They are all terrific from frozen bags.

And third? You can throw the frozen greens right in with the boiling pasta…ladies and gentleman, this is a one-pot convenience meal par excellence.

I have posted a similar recipe before, with options for freezing the sauce for baby food, but this time I am giving you the bare bones with how to handle each green. You can, of course, also use fresh greens, but our spinach and chard isn’t ready for harvest yet, so I am still using bagged.

Pasta with Dark Leafy Greens

(this can be halved for smaller meals)

1 lb. pasta of your choice (the curly short kind or farfalle/bowties grip the greens best)

1 lb bag frozen chopped spinach, kale, or chard

2-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

salt and hot red pepper flakes to taste

abundant grated cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano) or 1/2 cup crumbled feta

Bring abundant salted water to the boil. Add pasta and, if using kale or chard, add that immediately too. If using spinach, add halfway into the pasta cooking time.

Drain the pasta and vegetables and return the empty pot to the stove at medium heat. Let any residual water boil off, then add olive oil, garlic and optional hot red pepper flakes to the pot. Cook garlic gently until browned, then add pasta, greens and cheese to the pot. Combine thoroughly, salt to taste and serve.

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Cannellini and Chard Soup (with or without bacon)

15 Mar

Hearty, Dense, Soul-Satisfying (and great re-heated!)

I don’t know quite how it happened, but today’s accidental soup is one of the best I’ve ever made.  I just started pulling things that needed using out of the fridge and freezer, and dug around the pantry and about a half hour later, Leandro and I were slurping in happy ecstasy….Please note that the vegetable juice is a key element (a trick I learned from Cook’s Illustrated magazine) in getting a lot of veggie flavor that is more complex and not as sharp as straight-up canned tomatoes.

Tip for the peasants among us who hate waste and love flavor: if you are like me, you use a lot of real parmigiano reggiano and/or gran padano cheese. This leaves you with a lot of rinds after the grating is done. I save the rind in a plastic container in the fridge and drop it in the pot towards the end of cooking tomato-based soups like this one or minestrone. It lends a lot of richness, but must be removed before serving as it is not meant for eating!

Chard and White Bean Soup

2 Tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped fine

4 oz bacon, coarsely chopped (you can skip this for the vegetarian version)

8oz. chard, thoroughly washed, stems removed (and reserved for a later stir fry or sauté), chopped

16-24 oz low sodium vegetable juice (like V-8)

2 cups water

1 cup ditale or other chunky short pasta

15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tbs dry)

leftover parmigiano/gran padano rind or several tbs good grated cheese

Salt to taste

In a soup pot heat olive oil on medium high until fragrant, add onions, stir and lower heat. Sauté until wilting, then add celery and sauté until softened. Add bacon (if desired), raise heat  and cook through, stirring occasionally. Add chard and sauté until wilting. Add vegetable juice, add two cups water, bring to a boil, and add pasta. Lower heat to a vigorous simmer. After 10 minutes, add beans and parsley and parmigiano rind, if you’ve got. You may need or wantto add more water. Heat through, adjust salt if necessary, test pasta and serve (with generous amount of grated cheese, if you didn’t have rind) with crusty bread.

Cheesy Chard Pasta

7 Mar

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” https://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.

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