Chard is a species of the beet. Which is a good thing, since it is also known as "silver beet". After all, how confusing is it when something is named after something that it isn't? Then again, how confusing was that last sentence? Unlike the typical red, golden or even sugar "beet" however, this particular strain is grown for it's delicious leaves. Not that the others don't have tasty greens, but the flavorful chard "beets" them all. (Har dee har har)
It is most commonly found in white & red stalked varieties. Though my personal favorite, simply for aesthetic reasons, is "Rainbow"; AKA "Bright Lights" chard, with it's orange, pink, yellow, white, red and even sometimes purple stalks. It adds a lot of color to a dish.
So tonight, since I had a hankerin' for some chard, I threw a little pasta dish together. I would have preferred Orechietti (little ears), but I didn't pick any up the last time I was at Trader Joe's.
Note to self - "Make sure I always have orechietti in the pantry".
Due to my lack of foresight, conchiglioni had to take it's place this evening; though I swear that this particular shell shape is also called gnocchi in some parts of Italy. Be that as it may, it gave a perfectly delicious Mediterranean flair to the dish.
Oh and as an added bonus, Chard is packed with Alpha & ß - Carotene, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and B Vitamins such as folate, niacin, pyridoxine, thiamin and pantothenic acid. Not to mention the flavinoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. On top of that it contains healthy quantities of Omega 3 fatty acids. You could almost say that it's nutritional value is un"beet"able... (OK, I promise I am done now)
Conchiglioni con Bietole
1 lb (453 g) fresh Swiss Chard (your choice of Red, White or the Multi-color)
~14 oz (400 g) Conchiglioni or Orechietti
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
6 TB Olive oil
2 Anchovy fillets, chopped
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Remove the lower 1/3 of the stem from the leaves, and plunge the chard into a large pot of salted boiling water, cooking it for 8-10 minutes.
Drain the chard,
and squeeze out all the water out of it, just like you would for spinach.
Drop your pasta into a large pot of salted water.
Heat the Olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the garlic and anchovy; sautéing until the garlic takes on a golden hue.
While the garlic is cooking, chop the chard.
When the garlic is golden, add the chard and toss together, then season with salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and add to the saute pan , tossing for a couple of minutes to coat -or-
Drain the pasta and move to a warm bowl, pouring the chard mixture over the top and toss.
Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated Pecorino Romano and enjoy!!
Don't fear the anchovy, it only adds a "savoriness" to the dish, it doesn't taste like fish... :)