Friday, April 25, 2008

Pasta w/ Yellow Chard

Pasta gets a bad rap because it's a "carb". And I think most everyone dieting these days has experienced greater success with weight loss by reducing carbs, but I, personally, don't believe you need to cut them out completely.

Everyone should find the 'carb" exceptions that work for them. For instance I know potatoes and yams sit on, and in, my body like lead weight, but for me I don't have any ill effects from pasta. One of the reasons pasta works for me is because I make my pasta sauces with lots & lots of veggies, more veggies than pasta! In fact I only use 1/2 box, (8oz. instead of 16oz.) because every 2oz. serving has 200 cal. So 1/2 box makes 4 servings. Pasta is one of the fastest, easiest, and most versitile dishes to add most any veggie to, and Spaghetti noodles is my "go to" pasta shape and one that I always have in my pantry

Here are my two big tips for making pasta that I learned while staying at a cooking school in Tuscania, Italy.

Add 2 Tbl. salt to the pasta water (I use coarse sea salt). I kid you not! It seems like alot of salt because we've learned in this country to not use so much salt, but I swear to you it makes a huge difference in the flavor of the pasta. And if the Italians do it, then so do I!

Get in the habit of reserving some pasta water to thin the sauce as needed. Just before I drain the pasta I "fish out" about 1 cup, in a metal or glass (pyrex) measure, of the pasta water. Thinning your sauces with water instead of oil, cream, cheese, etc. will save many calories and give you the proper consistency.

And lastly.....pasta sauces don't have to be a red tomato sauce or a creamy cheese sauce. In fact in Italy, they are rarely either of these two. Instead, pasta sauces in Italian cooking are veggie based with seasonal, and regional produce, simple olive oil, and maybe a dust of hard cheese (like parmigiano reggiano).

Pasta with Yellow Chard

Spaghetti, 8oz
Chard, I used 2 small bunches of yellow, including the stems
olive oil (1-2 tbl.)
anchovies, 2-4 minced, optional
garlic, 2 cloves minced, optional
parmesean, 2 tbl., optional
Salt....not optional! (for pasta water)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to the time listed on the box. I sliced the yellow chard stems in thin strips, roughly the same size as the pasta and added them to the pasta pot during the last 3-4 minutes cooking time.

While pasta is cooking heat olive oil in saute pan and add anchovies, if using, cook for 1 min. Add chard leaves and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes, adding crushed garlic in the last minute.

Just before pasta is 'al dente', reserve some pasta water! Drain pasta and chard stems and add to the wilted chard leaves in saute pan and toss. Add 1-2 tbl. olive oil if needed and/or pasta water, and a dusting of parmesan. (see above photo of the finished pasta)


Happiness Within said...


My BF is Italian (born and raised in Italy) and I am always amazed at the amount of salt that he dumps into the water. But, oh boy, do the dishes come out so deliciously! I've learned a lot from him. Maybe when I visit Italy this summer, you'll come with me!

Jen said...

OMG Tracy, This looks so yummy that I want to make it for my breakfast!! :)

Cooking school in Italy? What a FUN thing to do! I would LOVE,LOVE,LOVE to do that!

JB said...

Thanks for posting this one Tracy. I am defniitely going to be making this one. I love my pasta and make my noodles up early in the week to reuse as needed in salads etc... This looks as good as I am sure it taste.

Mark Reifkind said...

Let me just say that I never liked pasta until Tracy started making it this way, with TONS of fresh veggies. Totally changed the 'pasta experience'. Make this recipe, it rocks.
also, using so much veggies in the pasta totally changes the glycemic index of the pasta, slowing down the release of the pastas sugar and making it much better for you.much different than a plate of pure starch by itself.

fawn said...

That looks fantastic! I'm going to steal this one for sure!

Lauren said...

I am so hungry right now! This looks so good. I will have to try this some time with my gluten free pasta I eat. 8-)

Tracy said...


I used to be a big, I mean HUGE fan of the show "Survivor", and I always said that the ONE thing I would bring with me to a desert island, if I could, would be salt!

Tracy said...


When I went to learn, I was such a beginner...if I went now, I would get so much more from it....let's go!

This is where I was,

I planned the trip with my good friend fact she's the one with the next comment (jb)!

Tracy said...


I've got to get more organized with my CSA delivery! Can you believe I'm having a hard time eating all of my veggies? LOL

Here it is Tuesday, and I still have at least 1/2 of those yummy carrots left....I hate to cook with them, because they are so good raw. I still have all of the leeks left, but I'm planning on braising them with some green garlic. I had to cook up the rapini, so it's sitting in the fridge...waiting....etc.

Tracy said...


You know I can't stand the thought of throwing away a chard stem, lol!

Tracy said...


I like this just as much tossed with more salad greens the next day and a squeeze of lemon, or just a drizzle of you favorite salad dressing.