“I’d much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0.“Sophia Loren
The weather has been nothing short of balmy in Sun Valley. For early March 45 degrees is unusual. The snow is slowly melting and everyone seems to be daydreaming of spring. However, the nights are still cold and there is plenty of skiing to be had. This early season transition can have you craving asparagus even though it’s not quiiiiiite in season yet.
Enter this New York Times Creamy Swiss Chard Pasta. It is creamy and hearty enough for chilly temperatures while still nodding toward spring with the addition of bright-green chard, leeks and fresh herbs. My personal pasta preference for this recipe is bucatini. I love how the creamy sauce coats the inside and outside of the noodles. For texture, it’s topped with toasted panko, a garnish that can go many ways. You could also add some ground coriander, Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence. Toasted panko, plain bread crumbs or even crushed croutons are a solid back-pocket trick to add crunch to any pasta, especially the creamiest kind. Don’t skip the tarragon and lemon zest garnish, which add a fresh note to an otherwise-rich dish. I added some smoked salmon for extra protein, which pairs nicely with the lemon and tarragon. If you prefer a vegetarian dish, leave out the salmon. Every time I prepare a newly discovered recipe, I always ask Peter is it is a “repeat.” This was a resounding YES! Easy enough for a weeknight dinner, and fancy enough for guests. The beautiful greens and numerous toppings make a stunning presentation, you don’t need any addition side-dishes.
- ¾ pound green Swiss chard (1 large bunch), washed and trimmed
- 2 large leeks (10 to 12 ounces each)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 jarred anchovy fillet
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh or dried thyme leaves
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 16 ounces bucatini, linguine, or fettuccine
- ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan
- Fresh tarragon leaves, for garnish
- 1 lemon, for garnish
- 1 fillet smoked salmon or trout
Creamy Swiss Chard Pasta
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Prepare the chard: Tear the leaves off the stems, separating the leaves and stems. Thinly slice the stems, then coarsely tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Set both aside in separate bowls.
- Prepare the leeks: Trim off the bottom and the dark green portion at the top, halve the remaining white and pale green portion lengthwise, then thinly slice them crosswise. Wash and drain the sliced leeks. Set aside.
- Prepare the bread crumbs: In a dutch oven or high-sided skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and anchovy over medium. Stir anchovy so it begins to melt into the butter. Add the panko, season lightly with salt and generously with pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and toasted, 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and melt over medium-high. Add the leeks, chard stems, garlic and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks start to wilt and soften, about 5 minutes. Add the torn chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until just wilted, 2 minutes.
- Add the stock and heavy cream, and boil over high until thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Once the mixture is simmering, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta.
- Transfer the pasta to the chard mixture pot. Stir in the cooked pasta, then sprinkle with the Parmesan, stirring vigorously to melt it into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Divide among shallow bowls or plates. Sprinkle generously with the prepared bread crumbs, top with tarragon, freshly grated lemon zest, and extra grated parmesan on top. Top with smoked fish. Serve immediately.