Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Garden to Table: Linguine with Red Walnuts and Swiss Chard

After a week of birthday celebrations with Pammy's limousine and Espresso-Frangelico Eclairs, and Sparks' yacht and Seashell Cake, I was ready to enjoy a few quiet evenings at home with John.

When John commented how beautifully our Swiss Chard was doing in the backyard, I suggested we try eating some of it. I used a few leaves under my Peruvian Ceviche not too long ago, and then promptly forgot it was back there. We have a very narrow yard that borders the back of our house, but you can only get a glimpse of the long box of herbs hanging on the fence when looking out the bathroom and bedroom windows. We also have a couple things growing in pots, including the Swiss chard, but I hardly go back there. This will be changing soon when we move in June. We will have a gorgeous yard and patio off the dining room and kitchen, with space for a few more vegetables. There's just something so satisfying about using the herbs and vegetables you've grown in your garden. As long as John continues to plant, water and grow them, I'll be happy to use them in my cooking.

I chose this Saveur pasta recipe mainly because of the Swiss chard, but also because of the Port Salut cheese and walnuts. And, with just a few ingredients, it was nice for a weeknight dinner.

Linguine with Red Walnuts and Swiss Chard
Adapted slightly from Saveur
Serves 2

1 cup shelled red walnut halves
10 ounces Swiss chard
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 shallots, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces dried linguine
4 ounces Port-Salut or other semisoft cheese, coarsely grated

1. Place walnuts in a single layer in a medium skillet. Toast over medium heat, turning occasionally, for 7 minutes. Set aside. Trim chard leaves, discarding tough stems. Coarsely chop leaves and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are soft, about 7 minutes. Add chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until chard has wilted, about 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Add pasta and reserved cooking water to chard mixture. Stir in cheese and walnuts, adjust seasoning, and serve.

Port Salut (pronounced POOR sah-LEW) is a creamy, delectable semi-soft pasteurized cow's milk cheese from Mayenne, France, with a distinctive orange crust and a mild flavor.

Chard is very popular among Mediterranean cooks, but the first varieties have been traced back to Sicily. It has shiny green ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivator. The flavor is mild yet earthy and sweet with slightly bitter undertones. Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sauteed; their bitterness fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavor which is more delicate than that of cooked spinach.


frost0326 said...

I hate to sound stupid, but what are red walnuts? I've never seen them. It really looks delicious, I just hope I can use regular walnuts, lol.

Carmen said...

Pretty chard! Congratulations to Farmer John.

Anonymous said...

This looks great! I love how the chard and red walnuts add the pops of color.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I just planted some swiss chard the other day. Can't wait to create many garden-to-table dishes like this one. Thank you for sharing!