Friday, September 23, 2011

Swiss Chard & Tomato Pasta

My mother-in-law sent me this recipe about a month ago and I've made it half a dozen times since.  It's simple, healthy, flavorful and satisfying: key components for any recipe to fall heavily into dinner rotation.  Works great for crowds, too.  I have been using dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes (pictured below) just about any way I can, as they are only around for a short time and they are the BEST tomatoes in the world, hands down.  My farmer's market has 10lbs for $20, and I plan to freeze some for the winter.  I don't really eat tomatoes the rest of the year.  Get them while you can and search my blog for lots of other ways to use them.

1 lb pasta noodles, any type
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
Crushed red chili pepper, to taste
1 bunch chard, any color
1 vegetable bouillon cube
Juice of 1 lemon
~10-12 chopped organic dry-farmed tomatoes (romas will work, too)
Basil to taste, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  In a large saute pan over medium heat, cook garlic with chili pepper until slightly browned in a good slug of olive oil (start with the oil cold to infuse it with the flavors.)  Add chopped chard stems, saute til soft.  Add veggie bouillon in a little water (maybe a 1/4 c.)  Add chopped chard leaves, coat with oil, saute for about 2-5 minutes.  Meanwhile, start cooking your noodles.  Squeeze lemon over chard.  Add chopped tomato, cook until the tomato is heated through and starts to soften.  Add chopped basil, to taste and toasted pine nuts.  When the pasta is done, save about 1 cup of the water and add whatever you think to the chard to make it saucier.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle liberally with cheese if desired.

dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes

Friday, September 2, 2011

Asparagus, Sun-dried tomato, Olive and Goat Cheese Pasta

Tired and hungover from jet setting to LA for Lady Gaga's post-VMA party, I was craving comfort food.  Pasta.  Creamy pasta.  Goat cheese is a great way to create a cream sauce and the flavor can't be beat.  I threw in whatever else I could find and the flavors were magical.  My husband and I polished off an entire pound of pasta between the two of us: it was that good.  The rigatoni was an exceptional fresh local one (Pasta Etc., Sonoma) that just had to be cooked for a minute or two to give it that perfect chew.

4 Tablespoons EVOO
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 bunch organic asparagus
2/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (drained)
1 cup organic vegetable broth
1/2 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh organic Italian flat parsley leaves
1 pound rigatoni or other pasta
4-6 ounces organic goat cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook the garlic and onion in the oil over medium heat, stirring until the onion is soft.  Add the tomatoes and the broth, and simmer the mixture until the liquid is reduced by about half. Stir in the olives, the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, cook the asparagus in the boiling water for about 2-3 minutes.  Scoop out and and add to the sauce.  Cook the pasta in the same boiling water until just al dente, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water. Stir the goat cheese and pasta water into the sauce along with the cooked pasta. Serve immediately.

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