Just got back from a week in South Carolina, where everything is served with bacon or ham in it. It would challenging to be a vegetarian or vegan in this part of the country, however I did enjoy my first fried green tomato, and fried okra is not so bad either. My brother-in-law got married out there, and all wedding events were vegetarian, which was impressive and delicious. After a long trip home, it is nice to be back in San Francisco, where we simply have the best food choices in the world. We sure are spoiled. Here's an easy pasta dish to take advantage of the lovely, colorful chards filling the markets.
16 ounces pasta (penne, rigatoni, etc.)
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds (approx. 2 bunches) Swiss chard, washed, stems removed and coarsely chopped
1 cup white wine
2 cups crushed red tomatoes
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated vegan parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, to taste
Cook pasta al dente, a couple minutes shy of package instructions. Save some of the pasta cooking water before draining. In a large skillet, heat the oil and shallots over med-high heat. Cook for 2 minutes and stir in the garlic. Add the chopped Swiss chard and toss to coat, then pour in the wine and stir until the chard wilts. Stir in the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and pine nuts. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, and stir in the reserved pasta cooking water. Do not over cook the chard. It is ready as soon as it has wilted. Add the pasta, salt and pepper, top with cheese and serve immediately.