Monday, August 8, 2011

Recipe: Peasant Pasta with Swiss Chard

I come by my love of peasant food honestly -- my grandfather's birth certificate from Sao Miguel in the Azores says "peasant" right on it. A love of bitter greens and ways to stretch a buck is in my DNA.

I'm posting this for a friend who asks me almost every week at the farmer's market how I cook swiss chard. IT Guy, this is for you.

Peasant Pasta With Swiss Chard
Serves 4 peasants

12 oz. package fettucine
1 large bunch (or two small) swiss chard
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (or more to taste)
4 eggs
4 oz. fresh mozarella, cubed
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, slice swiss chard leaves and stems in approximately half-inch slices (you can do this while it's still bunched) and then run your knife through the leaves to rough chop. Fill a large bowl with cold water and place chard into it, swishing the chard around to clean it.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions. When it is within 4 minutes of being done, scoop the swiss chard out of the water bath and into your pasta water. Stir. Cook 4 more minutes.

3. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic for about 1 minute (be careful not to burn it) and then pour garlic and oil into a small bowl.

4. In remaining traces of oil, cook the eggs over easy, over medium, or sunnyside up (according to preference; you want a bit of runny yolk). Season with salt and pepper.

5. Drain pasta mixture, return to cooking pot, and pour garlic and olive oil over it. Stir. Add parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss well.

6. Scoop pasta mixture onto four plates, garnish with an egg, mozzarella cubes, and a little more parmesan cheese (why not?).

* Note: this recipe is a good way to use up greens that are a little wilted or a mixture of more than one kind of green you may have on hand. You could also make it even heartier by putting two eggs on each plate.