Penne with Swiss Chard


Swiss chard is great when added to pasta dishes, and the tender leaves cook quickly. For a variation on this recipe, add 2 cans of imported Italian tuna ("tonno"), drained, or 1-1/2 to 2 cups crumbled or sliced cooked Italian sausage.


12 ounces penne pasta
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
6 slices thick-cut bacon (or 6 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch dice)
4 cloves garlic (sliced thinly)
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 pound Swiss chard (large stems removed, leaves cut crosswise into 1-inch ribbons)
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (cheese)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts


Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat and add the salt. Add the penne pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté until it's crispy and golden. Just before it gets brown, add the garlic, shallots and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes.

Add the wine and the chard to the skillet and cook until the chard is tender, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.

When the pasta is cooked, remove 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the penne thoroughly. Add half of the pasta liquid to the chard mixture in the skillet and stir to blend.

Place the penne in a large bowl and add the chard mixture, tossing to combine. Add half of the cheese to the penne and toss again. If the pasta is dry, add more of the reserved pasta liquid.

Divide the pasta among 4 warm pasta bowls and sprinkle each serving with some of the remaining cheese. Garnish with a sprinkling of pine nuts and serve hot.


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