Swiss Chard Pasta
I usually hit the grocery store early Monday morning, stocking up for the week. Which means that on many Monday mornings, I find myself digging through the fridge and pantry, looking for anything I can throw together for dinner so I might put the shopping trip off for one more day.
Often in these instances, I turn to homemade pasta. I always have eggs and flour on hand, since I’ll pick up a new bag when I’m at the store if I even think I may be running low. I also tend to keep a block of Parmesan around, and there’s always butter for toast, so as long as I have a vegetable lying around, then I consider dinner pretty much covered.
The problem is that when I make plain pasta with a vegetable on the side, my youngest child will be having plain, white pasta for dinner. Not exactly ideal, but Conrad is still firmly ensconced in his ban on foods that are not meat or starch based.
So when I noticed on a recent Monday that the Swiss chard plant in our little winter garden was looking quite hearty, I decided to make a green pasta and hope that the kids would eat it. And they did! (Note: I am not a gardener, but am lucky enough to have married one.)
I like this approach of putting the vegetable in the pasta itself, rather than mixing it in later, a la the Seinfeld experiment, because the former doesn’t mess with the texture of the dish whereas the latter can get a bit … gloopy.
Making homemade pasta is obviously an effort, but it’s not too bad if you have a pasta roller. Of course, you can also make noodles by hand with just a rolling pin and a sharp knife. You could probably even involve your kids in the process … assuming you don’t feel the need to have your noodles be equally sized or perfect-looking.
I used my typical pasta dough recipe, throwing the blanched chopped Chard into the blender to make things easy on myself. I tossed the cooked pasta into a bowl with butter and Parmesan, but you could use a tomato-based sauce instead (Neko won’t touch red sauce, alas). And of course any steamed vegetable could easily replace the chard, making this another good way to use up that half box of spinach in your freezer and hopefully give you an extra day of weekend recovery time before you have to hit the grocery store again.
Swiss Chard Pasta With Butter and Parmesan
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, at room temperature if you are good at planning ahead, unlike me
6 oz. fresh Swiss chard (or other vegetable)
4 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature or softened (not melted)
1 cup grated Parmesan
Steam the chard in a small amount of boiling water until it just wilts, about 2 minutes. Let the chard cool a little, then chop it roughly. Or rush this step and burn the crap out of your fingers, if you want to do it exactly the way I did it.
Place the flour and eggs in the food processor (or mix the dough by hand in a large bowl) with a pinch of salt and process until the mixture starts to come together. Add in the cooked chard and continue processing until the dough forms into a ball. Feel free to add small amounts of flour or water to get the dough to a consistency where it holds together but is not wet or sticky.
Let the dough rest at room temperature, covered with a towel, for at least 15 minutes or up to an hour, depending on how pressed for time you are.
Roll and cut the dough, using a dough roller or a rolling pin and chef’s knife, into any shape you like.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the noodles and return the water to a gentle boil. Boil the noodles for 2 minutes. Scoop about a cup of water out of the pot to use later, then drain the pasta.
Toss the drained noodles back into the empty pot removed from the heat. Add in the butter and cheese and stir until the cheese melts, adding a little bit of the water as needed to make the sauce more creamy and allow the cheese to melt instead of clumping. If your cheese starts to clump, turn the heat under the pot to low and keep stirring until it melts.
Serve with black pepper or red pepper flakes on the side for adults or those spice-loving kids I hear exist somewhere out there.