Here’s a sturdy spring through early fall pasta dish to serve as part of an at-home meal for company, or for your family. It features a classic trio in Italian cuisine — pasta, greens, and beans. For this recipe, I enjoy using long pasta like pappardelle, which looks so pretty in the dish, but you can use fettuccine or a short, chunky pasta variety, like rotelle, rotini, or ziti.
This recipe for pasta with chard also contains the traditional Tuscan twist of added raisins or currants. You might also enjoy another variation on this theme, Tuscan-Style Pasta with Beans and Greens.
Chard is a beloved kitchen garden vegetable in Italian cuisine, so that’s my choice for this dish. But you can use kale or spinach if you’d like. I prefer green chard, but you can use Swiss or rainbow chard if that’s what your farm market or CSA has in abundance.
This is also a good, sturdy dish to take to potlucks to share. If you plan to transport it, put it in a large covered casserole dish after allowing it to cool somewhat. Before serving, borrow your host’s oven, set at 350º F. to warm the dish up for 15 to 20 minutes; or microwave on High for 5 minutes to reheat.
- 10 to 12 ounces chard, any variety
- 10 to 12 ounce package pappardelle or other pasta of choice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium zucchini yellow summer squash, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup white wine or water
- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 15- to 16-ounce can cannellini, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes, oil-cured or not, as preferred
- 1/3 cup dark raisins or currants
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts, optional
- Cut the thickest part of the mid-ribs away from the chard leaves. Slice the ribs thinly.
- Rinse the leaves and ribs in a colander, then drain and coarsely chop the leaves.
- Cook the pasta in plenty of rapidly simmering water according to package direction until al dente, then drain.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in an extra-large saucepan or steep-sided stir-fry pan. Add the garlic and sauté over medium-low heat just begins to turn golden. Add the zucchini or summer squash and continue to sauté until tender-crisp.
- Add the wine and chard. Cover and cook just until the chard wilts down, stirring once or twice, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, beans, dried tomatoes, and raisins. Cook just until everything is well heated through, about 4 to 5 minutes longer.
- Combine the cooked pasta with the chard mixture in a large serving bowl. Toss well; season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss again. Top with the optional nuts and serve at once.
A few notes on chard
This abundant garden vegetable is related to both beets and spinach, and is often generically referred to as Swiss chard, even when it’s another kind. There are actually quite a number of varieties of this versatile leafy green. Some common types other than Swiss are green, red, gold, and silverbeet. Rainbow chard is actually a 5-color silverbeet, which grows with a variety of stem colors. They’re packaged together to create the rainbow of colors.
Chard has only a tiny bit of bitterness, which is tempered by light cooking, and there’s an undertone of saltiness, especially in Swiss chard. It takes a bit longer to cook than spinach, but light cooking is best.
Of all the larger leafy greens, you might find the stems the most palatable, with a flavor and texture is somewhat like a softer version of celery. Not everyone will want to use the stems, and that’s entirely up to your own preference.
Though chard stands out as the star of simple preparations, it more than holds its own with bold-flavored grain, bean, and potato dishes as well as in soups and stews, and of course, in pasta dishes like this one.
Recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas. Photos by Susan Voisin, FatFreeVegan.com.