Before we headed out yesterday to stuff our molars and gullets with refined sugar and chocolate, we ate vegetables. Yes, I HAVE turned into my mother. Although, I don't think my mom was so cruel as to serve us swiss chard and spinach salad before trick-or-treating. I remember warm soups and stews. Turns out I'm not as nice as my mom.
Halloween coincided with the collection of our last share of harvest from Mud Creek Farms (sniff). The last haul brought us a rainbow of swiss chard, yellow cauliflower, tender spinach, and celeriac root. My mom and Tracey were here, and we worked every single one of 'em into our menu: roasted veggies, spinach salad with apples and penne with swiss chard and cider.
I was placed in charge of the chard. What to do...
I've eaten it before but never prepared it before this fall. The last time I prepared it, I served it over mashed potatoes. We knew we had to incorporate pasta into the deal somehow since Poppa G was here. So that's where the penne came in.
Now, I'm convinced the organic methods used by Mud Creek produce the best tasting vegetables I've ever eaten. This swiss chard was so fresh and delicate tasting it could have been a salad green! It did present some bitterness though, so to be sure the kiddies would gobble it up I added some cider to the mix.
P.S. I also promised Karie that I would share this recipe I used for the Jalapeno Popper dip I made for a Halloween party this weekend. It's soooooooooo bad (bad meaning good).
Penne with Swiss Chard and Cider
A large bunch of swiss chard (about the size of the bunch above)
1 lb penne
1 largish glug of olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1-2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider (maybe more if you are using store-bought chard? just taste as you go and if you need the bitterness cut more, add another splash)
pinch red pepper flake
salt and pepper to taste
Generous handful of Parm cheese (although my mom and I agreed that crumbled goat cheese would be even better)
Put pot on to boil for pasta.
Glug olive oil into a deep, saute pan.
Add minced garlic and turn on the heat to low-med.
Let the garlic bubble away for a few minutes until the scent fills your kitchen (or the deepest corners of your bedroom closets, like at my grandma's house).
While the garlic is getting toasty, tear the chard away from the stem and begin to toss bite-size pieces into the pan.
Mix to incorporate with oil and garlic as you go.
Add 1 cup of stock, cider and turn up the heat to med-high. Cook until wilted and tender and then turn down to low. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flake to taste and simmer for a minute more (this is when you would add more stock if you need it. This IS the sauce for the pasta so it needs to have some looseness to it).
When pasta is cooked, add to the pan and simmer together until ready to serve.
Add cheese and mix and then sprinkle more on top.