Mystery Box: Swiss Chard and Bacon Pasta

An improvised recipe with chard from my CSA box turns out to be a keeper.

Charlotte Swiss Chard Ruby Red Stems and Veins

Charlotte Swiss Chard Ruby Red Stems and Veins

Charlotte Swiss chard produces good yields of delicious swiss chard leaves. Excellent for salads and steamed with others greens.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

I admit it.

I’ve always steered clear of Swiss chard at the farmer’s market and grocery store. Maybe it was because I’ve heard it could be bitter. Or perhaps I was just stumped by those long, tough rainbow-colored stems. Either way, I figured there were enough other greens in the world to keep me happy.

So when my CSA box featured a bright-stemmed bunch of leafy chard, I put it in the fridge until I could think of something to do with it. Somehow it got shoved to the back of the shelf and I forgot about it until I was rustling around for a package of bacon and got a handful of stem.

There I stood with slightly-wilted Swiss chard in one hand, and a package of bacon in the other. Bacon. Hmmm…

It turns out the internet is full of recipes for chard and bacon, but since I didn’t have all the ingredients for any of them, I had to do a little improvising. Here’s how to make my Swiss chard-bacon pasta.

You’ll Need

  • A bunch or two of Swiss chard. I only had one bunch, but two would have been even better.
  • A pound of noodles (I used spaghetti, but linguine or fettuccine would work fine.)
  • A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 – 16 ounces of bacon. 12 ounces probably would have been enough, but I had a 16-ounce package, and in my world, there is never too much bacon.
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped

Get Started

Put a pot of salted water on to start boiling while you work.

Now remove the stem from the Swiss chard. You can do this by folding the leaves over together and using a sharp knife to remove the stem, but I was feeling impatient and just tore the leaves off. It still seemed to do the job and made it easy to remove the thicker mid ribs (colored veins running through the leaves.)

Give the leaves a coarse chop and set them aside.

If your water is boiling, this is a good time to cook the pasta.

Slice bacon crossways into one-inch squares and crisp in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When bacon is crisp, transfer to a plate to drain.

By this time, the pasta should be ready to drain and set aside.

Return the pan to the heat, and saute the onion in the grease. When it begins to turn translucent and soft, add the Swiss chard, a dash of salt and pepper, and a cup of water. Wilt the chard for a few minutes until the water is evaporated and the chard is soft.

Now toss the noodles with the chard-bacon mix and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Top with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, and serve!

It makes a great side dish, but it's a great meal by itself, too. The chard is an excellent complement for the bacon and pasta, and I didn’t find it bitter at all.

Who knew I’d end up loving Swiss chard? Thanks, Mystery Box.

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