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.
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.
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 celery stick
1 clove garlic
50 grams (2 oz) prosciutto
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
salt and freshly ground black pepper