So, we made do with a few container plants of tomatoes and green peppers on our patio.
However, my husband has also been tending the garden of a good friend who has spent weeks in the hospital after a serious health crisis. And the bounty from that garden has been nothing short of amazing.
For example, last week, just before the weather turned, and we began getting regular hard frosts, he brought home a gorgeous bundle of rainbow Swiss chard.
But this was a huge bunch. And since it is just my husband and me at home these days, I did not think I’d be able to use it before it spoiled. So I decided to try something a bit different this time and make a meal out of it with pasta.
I found a few recipes on line, and decided to adapt this one. And so this recipe was born. It could not be quicker or simpler. And it’s delicious and healthy, too.
It made enough for 2 meals for my husband and me, with a bit leftover for me to take for lunch.
So it hits all the buttons as far as I’m concerned. Just my kind of meal.
It could easily be adapted for larger crowds, as well. And while I used fresh Swiss chard, I think other varieties of greens would also be fine substitutions, as would the frozen versions.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 4-6 servings
Prep Time – Approximately 15 minutes
Total Start-to-Finish Time – approximately 30 minutes
Total Recipe Cost – approximately $4.00
Total per person meal cost, with tossed salad and whole grain bread– approximately $1.50
8 ounces whole grain thin spaghetti or pasta of your choice
3-4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 large leaves of Swiss chard (you really can't have too much of this, so feel free to add more, too) or any green of your choice.
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 can white cannellini beans, 14-16 ounce size
16 ounces (2 cups) diced tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
½ teaspoon black pepper (to taste)
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Recipe continues after photos
- If you’re using long pasta, break it in half. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is done to taste, drain it and set it aside until you need it. You can place it in a covered colander over a pan of hot water on the stove to keep it warm until you need it, if desired.
- Meanwhile stack the 8-10 Swiss chard leaves and first cut the stems into pieces about ½-inch in length. Then cut across the leaves to make strips about 1-2 inches in width. Finally, cut across the strip to make rectangular pieces about 3-4 inches long.
- Put the cut leaves in a large bowl or pot and fill it with water. Swish the leaves around a bit to loosen any garden residue. Let them sit for a bit to allow any dirt to sink.
- Scoop the leaves out of the water into a colander.
- Empty and rinse the bowl or pot and repeat the process 1-2X, as necessary to remove any remaining grit.
- Give the greens several good shakes to remove most of the excess water and leave them to drain while you move on to prepare the rest of the meal.
- Peel and chop or mince the garlic.
- Drain and rinse the can of cannellini beans.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan or pot over medium heat.
- Add the minced or chopped garlic and cook, stirring frequently for about 1 minute.
- Add the greens and cut stems to the pan and carefully stir them to blend with the oil and garlic. They will be voluminous, but will cook down.
- Cover the pan and allow the chard to cook for a few minutes. stirring frequently.
- When the greens have cooked down a bit, add the 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and stir to mix well. Cover and continue to cook until the greens have reduced down and the stems are tender, about 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in the can of diced tomatoes.
- Add the ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and taste test. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Cover and bring the mixture to a simmer. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.
- Stir in the drained beans and heat them through.
- Carefully stir in the cooked pasta and distribute the contents well.
- Do a final taste test and adjust seasonings, as needed.
- Serve the pasta topped with Parmesan cheese, if desired, and a side of tossed, green salad and optional portions of fresh or garlic bread.