In the Kitchen: Last-Minute-Chard-And-Pasta

What do you do when you realize you’re missing a crucial ingredient for what you’d planned for dinner? Improvise. (*1)

Advance warning: This is not a summery dish. But it’s what I had on hand and what  I came up with in a hurry.

I had a bunch of chard in the frig, so I decided to cook that with pasta. I de-stemmed the chard, julienned the leaves and chopped the stems. Chopped a couple of cloves of garlic.

Rummaged in the fridge and found a half jar of roasted red pepper and some smoked ham. (There was also some pancetta, but I opted to use the ham.) Dried the peppers and chopped those and sliced the ham into thin strips.

Put on a pot of water to boil. Heated olive oil in a large pan.

When the oil was hot, I added the ham and chard stems and cooked those for six or seven minutes (or whatever). Added the garlic and cooked the goods a couple more minutes. Added the chard and some water; put a lid on the pan and cooked it on low for ten minutes.

When the chard was done, I removed the lid, turned the heat to medium-high and evaporated the rest of the water. Added the roasted pepper.

When it was close to eating time, I added the pasta to the water and cooked that. (I used Chitarra, but Fusilli, Linguini, or Bucattini would be great.)

When it was done, I tonged it into the pan with the greens, added a quarter cup or so of pasta water, and tossed and cooked all of it. Just before serving, I added a pat of butter (because as both Marcella and Julia insist, everything’s better with butter) and a handful of grated parmesan.

Dished the dish, poured the wine, and enjoyed.

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*1: Yes, I’m big on substitutions, omissions, and the like, but in this case, the dish I’d planned really wouldn’t work without fresh ginger, and by damn, I had none. So: on to Plan B. Because at my house, we adhere to the unbreakable rule: NO trips to the grocery store for just one thing. There’s other food in the house. Can’t make what you’d planned? Then make something else.

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