Lately, I’ve been posting recipes highlighting green beans, peppers, eggplant, and lettuce from our garden. But what I was craving was some greens, like swiss chard – specifically, red chard, because of its beautiful color – very visually appealing with its shiny green ribbed leaves in colorful contrast to the brilliant red stems, I remembered my mother including it in Japanese sukiyaki.
We grew swiss chard in our garden when I was growing up and it’s readily available in most markets here in California – some areas, not so much. Swiss chard is similar to spinach and beet greens with a flavor that is bitter, pungent and slightly salty. Swiss chard, along with kale, mustard greens and collard greens, is one of several leafy green vegetables often referred to as “greens”. It is a tall leafy green vegetable with a thick, crunchy stalk that comes in white, red or yellow with wide fan-like green leaves. WHFoods pronounces it a vegetable valedictorian and one of the world’s most nutritional foods because it contains loads of Vitamin K, A, and C and other nutrients – plus, one cooked cup of chard has only 35 calories!
Here I’ve included it in a quick easy pasta dish that’s perfect for Meatless Monday or any day where you desire a light, healthy meal packed with fresh flavor. The chickpeas add a little crunch along with a dash of tart lemon and tangy feta cheese.
Pasta with Red Chard and Chickpeas
1 bunch of organic red chard
1 can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 med. onion, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
8 oz. Barilla Plus thin spaghetti *
salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring a pot of water to boil. Add a generous amount of salt.
1. Wash the greens under running water. Stack them on a large cutting board as they are washed. Hold the stack of chard leaves, cut off the stems. Chop the stems into 1/2 inch lengths. Chop the leaves into 1 inch strips.
2. Drain the garbanzo beans, rinse, place in a bowl with the lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and thyme so flavors can meld.
Insert a strainer into the boiling water. Add the stems and blanch for 1-2 minutes. Remove and set aside in a bowl. Replace the strainer in the boiling water and add the leaves. Blanch for 1-2 minutes, pull the strainer up, use a large spoon to press down on the leaves and squeeze out excess liquid, set aside. Use this water for the pasta.
3. Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta in a colander. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and toss.
Return the pot to the burner. Heat on medium to burn off liquid, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook for another minute. Add the garbanzo bean mixture, stir to combine, then add the chard stems and leaves. Continue stirring, add the pasta and the feta cheese, stir to combine ingredients.
* Barilla Plus is a multigrain pasta that has 4 grams of fiber per 56g gram serving and is a good source of protein and Omega -3 from ground flaxseed. It’s appearance is similar to regular pasta, so may be more readily accepted by kids (and others) who may not find whole wheat or heartier brown pastas to their liking.