Pasta with Chard Stems (Penne alle Gambe di Coste)

Chard is not generally available anymore in this country, but recently a new ‘organic’ store opened up near to my house that carries it. I remember my grandmother serving chard (called “snijbiet” in Dutch), but I had never prepared it myself. Now that I can get it, I made Chard Risotto and Pizzoccheri with chard. For both of them I only used the leaves, and so I had a nice bunch of chard stems in the crisper of my fridge, waiting for a purpose. I remember Emmy had posted a recipe for Baked Chard Stems with Tomato, Garlic, and Parmesan, and that was the inspiration for this pasta dish. We love pasta and eat it almost every day. I decided to try making something like ragù from the chard stems, and it worked out great.

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The chard provides more texture than flavor, but this rustic dish is a great way to use up chard stems. I included a bit of prosciutto for additional flavor, but you can leave that out for a vegetarian version.

Ingredients

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For 3 servings

450 grams (1 lb) chard stems

225 grams (.5 lb) penne rigate or rigatoni

700 grams (1.5 lbs) plum tomatoes, or 1 can (400 grams/14 oz) peeled tomatoes

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 carrot

1 onion

1 celery stick

1 clove garlic

50 grams (2 oz) prosciutto

freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

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Chop the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and prosciutto very fine.

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I am lazy and use the food processor for this.

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Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the minced vegetables. Sauté over medium heat until golden, about 5-10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, wash and dry the chard stems and cut them into strips about the size of the penne pasta.

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Add the chard to the vegetables.

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Saute for a few minutes longer.

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Meanwhile, wash and dry the tomatoes and put them in the food processor.

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Whizz them until pulp.

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Put the tomatoes through a food mill to remove most of the seeds and pieces of skin, and add to the chard.

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Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer over low heat.

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Simmer the sauce, stirring now and then, until has reached a thick consistency and the chard is tender, about 40 minutes.

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When the sauce is almost ready, bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt and penne pasta and boil until al dente according to package instructions.

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Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, together with some freshly grated parmigiano.

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Toss to mix over low heat.

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Serve on warm plates with some more freshly grated parmigiano. You could also add some fresh chopped parsley if you like.

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14 thoughts on “Pasta with Chard Stems (Penne alle Gambe di Coste)

  1. Small world! I have just made a frittata with Swiss Chard leaves and was looking for something to do with the stalks. This looks good. They are known as bietole in this part of Italy.

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  2. Most Aussies are familiar with silverbeet AKA Swiss Chard. Love your treatment of the stems, I often use stem and leaf in risotto with porcini and pine nuts. it’s a rich and earthy combination. Thanks for sharing

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  3. Is there a reason why chard is no longer available, Stefan? Its the opposite here, so it seems. I see it year-round now and take full advantage. This recipe is a good one and I look forward to making it. Thanks, Stefan.

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    1. I think it just went out of fashion and was considered to be pig or cattle feed. Organic shops that revive ‘forgotten vegetables’ have been around for a long time, but used to be just marginal. We don’t have something big like Wholefoods (yet), probably because Dutchmen don’t like spending their ‘Whole paycheck’ on food.

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