I don’t really like chard, but I find it so beautiful that I can never help myself from buying a bunch whenever I come across it.
Cooking it with pasta is one way I’ve found to make it delicious (to me), though I have also grown to enjoy it in soups, stews, and egg-based dishes like frittatas, omelettes and quiches. Turns out it’s also quite nice simply sautéed and served as a side to something hearty.
My reluctance to eat chard means I often let it sit in my fridge for a bit too long before finally getting around to cooking with it.
If, like mine often do, your chard and/or beet greens have wilted a bit, you can perk them up by submerging them in a large bowl of very cold water — this also doubles as a good way to wash off any soil or grit that may be hiding in the leaves or stems*.
chard (and beet green) pasta
with sautéed garlic, nutmeg, and parmesan
makes approx. 4 servings
I happened to have fresh beets greens so used them along with the chard. If you have something chard-y on hand, don’t hesitate to use that instead or in addition to the chard this recipe calls for. Life’s too short to follow recipes to the letter! I’ll be much happier if you use this one as a mere guideline or inspiration to make something you’d be proud to call your own.
• 1 small bunch chard and 1 small bunch beets greens, or 2 small bunches chard**
• 1-3 cloves of garlic depends on how large they are, and how much you like garlic
• extra virgin olive oil
• coarse and flaky sea salt
• freshly cracked black pepper
• 1 whole nutmeg
• 320g linguine
• optional: parmesan and/or pecorino, grated using the fine grating side of a box grater***
**any sturdy leafy green should work here too — think kale, collard greens, or even dandelion greens
***if you’re vegetarian, you could also a similar hard cheese instead, or a vegetarian alternative to parmesan/pecorino
1. Separate the chard (and beet) leaves from the stems by folding each leaf in half lengthwise — cut along the spine to get the most stem possible out from each leaf. Then, cut each stem across its width into segments 2 or so cm wide.
2. Finely slice 1-3 cloves of peeled garlic.
3. Then, to a large pan on medium heat, add a good splash of olive oil, just enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan, followed by the chard / beet stems and the garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Once the stems have yielded a little and the garlic is translucent and soft, remove the pan from the heat. Meanwhile, roughly chop up the chard / beet leaves into bite-size pieces.
4. Set a large pot of water on high heat for the linguine. Once it has come to a boil, season it well with coarse sea salt. Add the pasta to the water and cook it for 2 minutes less than the time indicated on the package instructions.
5. Two minutes before the pasta timer goes off, return the pan containing the sautéed stems and garlic to a medium heat. One minute before the pasta timer goes off, add the chopped leaves to the pot with the pasta to blanch them.
6. Once the timer goes off, use tongs to transfer the pasta and blanched greens to the pan with the garlicky stems, making sure to transfer some pasta water along the way as well.
7. Turn the heat off, then add one to four handfuls of finely grated cheese to the pan (or none, up to you!) with the pasta, stirring with the tongs as you add. Splash in some more starchy pasta water to help the sauce emulsify and come together, and so the pasta can finish cooking in the sauce.
8. Serve immediately with a bit more freshly grated nutmeg on top, plus a bit more pepper and extra cheese if you like. For a richer result, finish with a small drizzle of olive oil and a very light sprinkle of crushed flaky sea salt (this is especially nice if omitting the cheese!).
*here’s how I like to do it: lunge the leaves and stems up and down into the bowl of water somewhat vigorously, submerging them a few times so as to dislodge any fine grit, and wiping off any obvious dirt between forefinger and thumb — then leave the veg alone to crisp up. after 7 minutes or so, any gritty bits should have settled at the bottom of the bowl and you can just pull out the newly-perked chard / beet greens out and give everything a quick pat in a clean dishtowel (or a good spin in the salad spinner) to dry. this is a good trick for most leafy veg!
All that’s left to do is enjoy!