Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Gemelli with Sausage, Chard and Pine Nuts

It was my turn to cook last Wednesday.

I planned to make a pasta with spring vegetables dish.

Then I saw this gorgeous rainbow chard in the Co-op and said, “Oh, hell, yes!” I’m sorry, but that’s what I said.

I purchased the chard, ditched the spring pasta vegetable thing I’d been mooning about and promptly looked for a recipe so the chard could take center stage. 

Martha came through. Again.  I love Martha.

I knew I wanted pasta because I was craving pasta so I researched googled “chard and pasta” and this little gem appeared 

Gemelli with Sausage, Chard and Pine Nuts.  YUM.  Pine Nuts can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.  I used them to make Torte della Nonna. Chard and beets are kissing cousins…I know this because the current edition of Cooks Illustrated arrived as I was writing this post and this lovely illustration is on the back: 

There are several types of chard in addition to the rainbow variety but what they all have in common is the punch they pack nutritionally.  Feel free to substitute any leafy green for the chard – spinach, kale or leafy beet greens would all work nicely – but do not, do NOT, DO NOT skip the raisins…they add a nice sweetness and interest that harmonize beautifully with the other flavors.

Gemelli with Sausage, Chard and Pine Nuts

1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed.  I used chicken sausage.
1 pound Swiss chard, tough stems removed, leaves cut into thin strips.  I used rainbow chard.
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (my addition)
1 pound gemelli, or other short pasta
¾ cup raisins, plumped in boiling water and drained.  I used currents.
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

In a large skillet, toast pine nuts over medium-high heat, shaking the pan to toast evenly, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from skillet.

In the same skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage, and cook, breaking it up with a fork, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add chard, garlic, pepper and red pepper flakes; cook, tossing, until chard wilts, 2 to 3 minutes. Cover to keep warm.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions, about 12 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot.

Add sausage mixture to pasta with 1/2 cup reserved cooking water, raisins, toasted pine nuts, and Parmesan; toss to combine. Add more cooking water if pasta seems dry. Serve with more Parmesan.

So. Good.

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