Food & dining

Recipe: In this economical dish, sauteed Swiss chard is tossed with curly pasta and Parmesan

Pasta with Swiss chard
karoline boehm goodnick for the boston globe
Pasta with Swiss chard

Serves 4

Two bunches of Swiss chard, the amount you need for this pasta dish, look like a lot when they’re sitting on the counter, but once the leaves start to wilt in the pan, they shrink dramatically. Use green or rainbow chard (the bunches with multicolored stalks) or a combination. Wash them thoroughly so there’s no grit left in the leaves. In this no-waste recipe, you saute both leaves and stems, giving the stems a head start in the skillet. They’re tossed with garlic, crushed red pepper, lemon juice, and Parmesan, then added to short, curly pasta with some of the pasta cooking liquid to make it saucy. It’s an economical, vegetarian weeknight dish.

Salt and black pepper, to taste
12ounces short pasta, such as pipe rigata, campanelle, farfalle, or other small curly shapes
2bunches Swiss chard (about 10 large leaves), washed thoroughly
3tablespoons olive oil
3cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼teaspoon crushed red pepper
2teaspoons fresh lemon juice
cups freshly grated Parmesan

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the pasta is tender, but still has some bite (check the package directions and start tasting a minute or two before the recommended time). Dip a heatproof measuring cup into the pasta water and remove 1 cup; set aside. Drain the pasta into a colander and do not rinse. Return the pasta to the pot.

2. Meanwhile, trim and discard the bottom inch of the stems. Cut the leaves from the stems. Cut the stems into 1-inch pieces; if the thickest part of the stems is wider than 1 inch, halve them lengthwise. Coarsely chop the leaves. Keep the leaves and stems separate.

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3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the chard stems and salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until almost tender.

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4. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the chard leaves and cover the pan (don’t worry if the lid doesn’t close; it will when the leaves shrink). Cook, turning the leaves occasionally with tongs, for 5 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, or until the leaves and stalks are tender and the liquid evaporates.

5. Stir in the lemon juice and black pepper.

6. Add the chard mixture to the pasta and toss well to combine them. Turn the heat to medium-low. Stir in 1 cup of the Parmesan and stir well. Stir in pasta cooking water, ¼ cup at a time, until the mixture is loose.

7. Divide the pasta and chard among 4 large bowls and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan and more black pepper. Lisa Zwirn

Lisa Zwirn can be reached at lisa@lisazwirn.com.