Swiss Chard With Pasta And Feta

This is an old recipe for me. I stumbled onto the base of this recipe back when my kids were infants and only my husband and I were eating “real food” for dinner, it was always a romantic table for two! I love healthy food and I love this recipe. I’ve adjusted it to feed a family of 4 with plenty of leftovers (personally I loooove leftovers because it’s home cooking without the work of cooking every single day!) 



Now a days I’m cooking for 4, including my two boys (I’m pretty sure they have to have hollow legs to be able to fit the amount of food that they eat into their bodies!) This recipe is pretty to look at and tasty. It’s one I make frequently and that my whole family loves.

Alert: if you have super picky kids that won’t try new things, this may be the recipe that changes that! It’s definitely not McDonald’s. But it IS a really great way to get some healthy greens in your diet! Even if your kids (or partner) turns their noses up on the wilted leaves there’s still the mild stems that make this a balanced meal. 

I am also a low-carber (Starting in the days when Atkins was popular… I’m getting old!), so I make two sets of pasta. Regular wheat based pasta for my husband and kids and I make mine with pasta made from chickpeas. One of the other reasons I do this is I’m allergic to wheat. Not the trendy “gluten sensitivity”, but actually wheat. This is probably why I responded so well to going low carb a decade and a half (or more) ago. Wheat and I are not friends and I feel sick (my lovely allergy!) when I eat it, so I just don’t do it any more. It took me a long time to figure out the “why’s”, but I can’t swallow if I eat wheat regularly, so it’s a big deal. And after a trip to the emergency room and subsequent elimination diet from a gastroenterologist, I got serious about getting wheat out of my diet. 

Cannellini beans with black soy beans

Being interested in botany and also having an upbringing that included an exposure to farming, I think most grains are bad news. It’s what you feed livestock to fatten them. So consuming grain (in general) is walking in a direction I’m not interested in going! 

Off on a tangent: My grandfather was a wheat farmer and I had a horrible time during harvest. I used to climb up into the grain trucks and would end up having asthma attacks and horrible, horrible hay fever as a kid. I guess it just never went away. So this is the brand of pasta I buy:

Banza.

It’s high protein and high fiber. I like the taste and it’s tender like regular pasta after you cook it.

Also the only people who need to watch their greens consumption, are the people on the old blood thinners (like warfarin) that are affected by vitamin K. Everyone else can chow down!



For this recipe I recommend chard or beet greens. You can use spinach but spinach is pretty mild (ie. tasteless) when you wilt the leaves, so if you are looking for more flavor, leave the spinach behind. If chard is hard for you to find, you can get the same effect by mixing more pungent greens like Turnip greens and mustard greens in with something mild like spinach. If you are growing beets, this is a fantastic way to eat the leaves, but you need quite a bit. Unless you are buying beets in bulk, you probably would have a hard time getting enough to make this recipe from your grocers.

If you have beet greens that are separate from the beet roots at your grocery store, I’m jealous! I believe beet greens are the best in this! You can use any color beet green for this (red, yellow or white.) The greens don’t have a noticeable difference in taste. (Although: if you are buying the beet roots and you have someone in your house that is “really sure” that they hate beets: yellow beets are very, very mild as are white beets also called Mangel-wurzelare beets. Other options are: striped beets and cylindra beets. Interestingly: sugar beets are the source of a lot of the granular sugar in your baking aisle. My husband loves yellow beets, and he was one of the: “I hate beets!” people, when we got married.)

Also, I personally can’t stand cooked kale (and I love almost all vegetables), so I don’t recommend it for this, but if you really like cooked kale: go for it!

The first thing you need to do is prepare your chard or other greens. Rinse the ribs to remove any grit. Fold the leaves together: down the middle (in half), and run a knife down the outside of the stem. Cut through both layers of leaves, to remove the ribs from the leaves. The reason for this is that: the ribs in greens cook slower than the leaves. Plus, you are actually going to cook the stems, while you just “wilt” the leaves.



I recommend a red chard for this if you are using chard. Swiss chard comes in a variety of stem colors. The bright red ribs are very pretty in this dish. But, it isn’t necessary, as it doesn’t affect the flavor of the dish at all. Another reason is that the color of your vegetable is a visual indicator of the vitamins it carries. The darker your vegetables, the more vitamins are in it. The colors also indicate which vitamins are present. Here is a picture with more on that:

If you don’t know about how color affects food nutrition, I really recommend this site https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/what-color-is-your-food#section-2 . It explains it in detail, gives you examples and is a great foundation of information for your vegetable choices in the future. 

The chard stems don’t really bleed much so the end result is very pretty.

Wash and stem your chard and then chop the stem up into chunks and add to the base vegetables in the recipe. The stems have a texture that is a little bit like celery and they add a nice crunch to the dish. Here’s what you need.

Swiss Chard With Pasta And Feta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

INGREDIENTS :

  • 2 Tbs olive oil 
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 2 bunches beet greens or Swiss chard, washed, ribs removed and chopped, leaves coarsely chopped. 
  • 1 lb penne, rotini, conchiglie or orecchiette pasta
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 can cannelini or great northern beans (cannelini taste better in this) 
  • 1 can black soybeans (or you can add a second can of the beans above) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-10 oz crumbled feta per your preference (we tend to add a lot of cheese to everything) 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Bring large pot of water to boil and add pasta. In the meantime, add the olive oil to a large frying pan and add onion, chard/beet stems and garlic. Cook over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cook until onions and garlic are translucent, about 3 minutes. 

2. Remove pasta and drain after the recommended time on your package, retain a cup of cooking water, set aside. Add beet greens and the cup of pasta water to the vegetable mixture. Cover. Cook on medium heat until just wilted. 3-5 minutes. 

3. Return pasta to the pot and place over low heat. Add the beet green mixture and rinsed beans. Carefully stir the mixture and let the beans heat though. Watch the beans, because if you stir too enthusiastically, or if you aren’t careful, they will break apart. 

4. Plate pasta with greens and add feta to the top. Stir in the feta and enjoy! 

Variations to this: add cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts or sun dried tomatoes. Makes approximately 4-6+ servings.

 

I save the leftover vegetable mixture separately from the pasta in my refrigerator. I usually need a little more pasta, when I reheat this as a left over. So I boil a little extra pasta and dump the leftover pasta into the boiling water when there’s about two minutes left on the new pasta. You can reheat the vegetables in the microwave. And never forget the feta! 

I hope you enjoy this as a great way to eat healthy in the new year! Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

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