Sunday, September 13, 2009

Recipe for Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Garlic, Chard, and Pecorino-Romano Cheese

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Garlic, Chard, and Pecorino-Romano CheeseSwiss Chard is one of those greens I'm not sure I ever tasted before I started growing it in my garden, but I liked the flavor right away when I tried it. I also love the way you can snip off chard leaves as they get big and the plant will keep producing more leaves all summer and well into the fall. That cut-and-come-again quality makes chard a gardener's dream plant, especially in Utah where so many leafy greens don't do well once the hot summer weather gets here.

This simple dish with my favorite Italian Whole Wheat Spaghetti, garlic-sauteed chard, and parmesan is something I threw together when I had a big bowl of just-cut chard leaves and was craving pasta. It turned out to be so tasty that the next time I cut chard leaves, I took photos and wrote down the recipe. If you don't have a garden with chard, any type of greens could be used here, although sturdier greens like kale would need to cook a bit longer. Look after the recipe for other tasty ideas with chard from myself and other bloggers. I have a few rows of chard and they're producing pretty well, so if you have a good recipe using chard I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

A lot of the flavor in this dish comes from the cheese, and I used freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, although a good Parmesan or Asiago cheese would also work. I grated the cheese on the largest side of the cheese grater, and then coarsely chopped it a bit more with a chef's knife.

Smaller chard leaves like the one on the left can be just sliced, but if you have larger leaves you should cut away thick stems like the photo on the right. (Don't throw away the stems; save them until you get enough and make Baked Swiss Chard Stems with Olive Oil and Parmesan.)

I cut all the chard leaves into crosswise strips and then washed them in my large salad spinner. If you don't have a salad spinner, just wash in the sink and blot dry with paper towels.

Forgot to take a photo of the chopped garlic and hot pepper flakes cooking in the olive oil, but they're under this pile of chard in my largest frying pan.

It took less than two minutes for the chard strips to be wilted down like this. As soon as the chard had wilted I added 1/4 cup hot pasta cooking water and turned the heat down as low as I could get it.

Drain the hot spaghetti and toss immediately with the wilted chard, sprinkling in about half the cheese. Be sure to save some cheese to add to the top of each serving. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Garlic, Chard, and Grated Pecorino-Romano Cheese
(Makes 4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn.)

8 oz whole wheat spaghetti (4 servings if you're using one of those spaghetti-measuring discs with holes)
salt, for pasta cooking water (I used fine grind sea salt)
12-16 oz. fresh chard leaves, cut into crosswise strips
1 T finely minced fresh garlic
Optional: pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup hot pasta cooking water (remove before draining pasta)
1/2 cup coarsely grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (or use any hard grating cheese with a good flavor such as Parmesan or Asiago)
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cut chard leaves into crosswise strips about 1/2 inch wide, cutting out large inner chard stems if needed. Wash chard strips and spin dry or dry with paper towels.

Grate the Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese on the largest holes of a cheese grater, then coarsely chop with chef's knife, keeping the cheese pieces fairly large.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding a generous amount of salt (enough that the water tastes slightly salty.) When water is boiling, add the spaghetti, stir once, reduce heat slightly and boil until the spaghetti is cooked but still slightly chewy or al dente. Consult the spaghetti package for recommended cooking time, but for my Italian whole wheat spaghetti, this took exactly 9 minutes.

In the largest heavy frying pan you have, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add minced garlic (and hot pepper flakes if using) and saute garlic about 1 minute. Be sure not to let the garlic get brown or it can easy turn bitter. It's done when you start to smell garlic.

Add chard strips all at once and saute 1-2 minutes, just until chard is wilted down to about half the size it was. Use a measuring cup to remove 1/4 cup hot pasta cooking water and add to chard, then reduce heat to the lowest possible setting to keep the chard warm.

As soon as pasta is cooked but still slightly chewy, drain pasta in a colander placed in the sink, then add hot pasta to the pan with the cooked chard and toss. (I used two large forks to toss the pasta with the chard.) Add about half the grated cheese and toss again. Season to taste with fresh ground black pepper, then divide spaghetti on four individual plates, top each serving with cheese, and serve hot.

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South Beach Suggestions:
Made with whole-wheat spaghetti or other whole grain or low carb spaghetti, this would be a great main dish for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. Not only is chard a very low-glycemic food, but it's also one of the world's healthiest foods. I'd serve this with a perfect green salad for phase 2, possibly adding something like Roasted Broccoli if you want a more substantial meal.

More Tasty Recipes Using Swiss Chard:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Baked Swiss Chard Stems with Olive Oil and Parmesan from Kalyn's Kitchen
Swiss Chard and Mushroom Squares from Kalyn's Kitchen
Spicy Stir-Fried Radish Greens or Chard from Kalyn's Kitchen
Italian Sausage and Bean Soup with Chard from Kalyn's Kitchen
How to Cook Swiss Chard from Beyond Salmon
Swiss Chard and Artichoke White Pizza from Farmgirl Fare
Swiss Chard Gratin with Vegan Bechamel from Chocolate and Zucchini
Swiss Chard Tzatziki from Simply Recipes
Sauteed Swiss Chard from Sidewalk Shoes
Roasted Garbanzo Beans and Garlic with Swiss Chard from Recipe Girl

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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  1. Wonderful, I love this sort of easy-going pasta dish for dinner. Wholewheat spaghetti, garlic and pecorino (or parmesan) are ingredients that we always have in.

    Chard has been my big garden success of the summer, except that my new chickens love it to bits and I've had to build massive reinforcements around my vegetable bed to keep them out. I think we've reached something of a truce - one leaf for us, on leaf for the chooks.

  2. Sophie, I guess that's the yin and yang of having chickens! No chicks here, but I did learn the hard way this year not to let the chard over-winter (even if appears to be healthy in the spring.) I had to pull out all my chard mid-summer and plant again, but it's doing well again now.

  3. This sounds like a simple easy dish. I've never tried chard but I'm going to look for some the next time I go grocery shopping.

  4. Love the sound of this dish, dear Kalyn!! Whole-wheat spaghetti is a little hard to get used to. But now I am loving it.

  5. my mum used to grow swiss chard - which we call silverbeet - in her garden - I hated it - now I appreciate it a lot more and love this pasta recipe

  6. Johanna, thanks for the reminder that it's called Silverbeet in the UK and Australia. I had forgotten that! (My mom used to feed us bulgur, which I hated but now love!)

  7. Good post, thanks for sharing some pics.

  8. What a positively wonderful pasta dish! I love how you used such simple flavors and ingredients.

  9. Oh, Kalyn I love this dish. I make something almost exactly the same! Swiss chard is one of those super foods - incredible healthy. Between that and the garlic and the whole wheat pasta, you've really got a super healthy dish. I love your opening shot.

  10. Yum, this looks incredible, exactly the kind of thing I love to have for dinner. I only recently began to eat chard but I loved it immediately. I'm putting some on my market list for next week, gotta make this!

  11. I have a good recipe for polenta with a savory layer of swiss chard in the midde. Would you like it?

  12. I can tell I'm not the only chard fan out there! Janet, polenta with chard in the middle sounds great, but polenta isn't South Beach friendly (too much sugar in the corn.) Thanks for the offer though.

  13. I've got friends who are trying to convince me to start growing chard in place of half of my spinach. Chard recipes certainly seem to have exploded in the past year, so I may have to give that experiment a try - especially with this one in front of me!

    It's so hot here in Alabama most of the year, that I grow spinach in the spring and fall - it's way too hot in the summer for greens. Would chard do well for a fall planting? We don't usually get our first freeze until mid-December at the absolute earliest.

  14. Deborah, I haven't tried it, but I'm pretty sure chard will grow well in the fall, especially in a warm climate. I'm just about to plant arugula and spinach in my own garden and hope for the best! Might be too late for here, but sometimes we go until well into November before it's cold enough to freeze.

  15. This sounds delicious, I love that cut-and-come-again quality of chard (and kale, and arugula) too!

  16. I love chard (and other types of greens).

    * Simply stewed with garlic, pepper, olive oil or bacon drippings;

    * In caldo verde (with chorizo, onions, chicken stock and potatoes);

    * With chickpeas or couscous, currants, pine nuts and preserved lemon

    * With borlotti or tarbais beans, aromatics, broccoli rabe and croutons.

    You're in for a treat. :)

  17. Katerine, isn't it the greatest?

    Stash, thanks for all the great chard ideas!

  18. I have a fresh bunch of chard - it has been prolific at the farm. This fits the bill for a weeknight dinner.

  19. Kalyn - Oh you so had me at "Swiss chard." I hope you have been well!

  20. Thanks for posting this pasta dish, especially as a way to use Swiss chard. I've only been eating chard for about a year and always have trouble thinking of new ways to prepare it. I'll definitely try this!

  21. I grow a lot of chard and French sorrel (I live in West Valley City); my favorite use for them is to throw them in with lettuce for salads, tacos, and enchiladas.

  22. I opened my reader just to find a recipe for swiss chard. I've never made it but I love spinach so I want to expand my repertoire of leafy greens!

    I'm going to make this tomorrow -- if I get home in time (I have to work an evening event) or Friday! SO in the mood for pasta too!

  23. What a terrific meatless past dish - I love swiss chard, especially when our farmer's market starts offering the rainbow chard. Great photos on how to prep swiss chard!


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