Easy Pasta with Winter Greens

Easy Pasta with Winter Greens
This vegetarian pasta has a silky, brightly colored sauce made with Swiss chard, garlic, lemon, and Parmesan cheese.
  • 2 bunches (about 20 ounces) white or yellow-stemmed Swiss chard
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste, plus more for cooking pasta
  • 12 ounces dry pasta like rigatoni or orecchiette
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  1. Prep the greens:
  2. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil.
  3. Rinse the Swiss chard well and shake them over the sink to dry a bit. Place a chard leaf flat on a cutting board, and run a sharp knife along either side of the stem from top to bottom, removing the stem and leaving the green leaf in two long pieces. Repeat with the remaining leaves, cutting the extra-large pieces crosswise into smaller pieces.
  4. Cutting the stem out of swiss chard to make a lemony swiss chard sauce pasta.
  5. Cook the garlic:
  6. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic. Cook on one side until lightly browned and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Flip over the garlic and add the red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is light brown on the other side, 2 to 3 more minutes.
  7. Scrape the garlic, pepper flakes, and the oil into a blender to cool a bit.
  8. Cook the greens:
  9. When the water boils, generously season it with salt. Add the prepared greens, pushing them down with tongs to submerge into the water.
  10. Boil until wilted and dark green, 2 to 3 minutes. Use tongs to retrieve the greens without draining the pot. Transfer them to a strainer to cool and drain.
  11. Leave the water boiling in the pot. You’ll use it to cook the pasta.
  12. Blanching swiss chard to make lemony swiss chard sauce pasta.
  13. Blanched swiss chard in a colander to make a simple pasta with green sauce.
  14. Cook the pasta:
  15. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Set aside 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.
  16. A wooden spoon holding short pasta above a pan of boiling water.
  17. Make the sauce:
  18. Add the cooked greens, ½ teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and ¼ cup pasta water to the blender with the garlic and chili oil.
  19. Keep the lid of the blender slightly ajar and cover it with a kitchen towel. Blend until smooth and silky, adding more pasta water a tablespoon at a time if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, keeping in mind that the cheese will add some saltiness.
  20. A blender with blanched swiss chard and ingredients to make a simple pasta with green sauce
  21. Bright green sauce in a blender to make a simple pasta with green sauce.
  22. Assemble the pasta:
  23. Return the pasta to the pot and top with the sauce. Add the Parmesan cheese and toss to coat until the cheese melts.
  24. Add the reserved pasta water, a splash at a time, to achieve a silky consistency. It should effortlessly coat the noodles.
  25. The sauce will continue to firm up, so make it slightly looser than you’d like it. You’ll most likely end up using between ¼ to ⅔ cup of pasta water.
  26. Sauce and pasta mixed in a stock pot.
  27. Serve:
  28. Divide into individual servings and garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
  29. Swiss chard, lemon, and parmesan pasta heaped in a low bowl with a fork next to it.