Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 18: Pasta with Swiss Chard, Bacon, and Lemony Ricotta Cheese

   Coarse salt
1 pound cellantani or other ridged short-cut pasta
   Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
3 or 4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch of Swiss chard, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
   Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus some to pass at the table

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. When the water comes to a boil, add salt and cook the pasta al dente.

While the pasta cooks, preheat a large, deep skillet over moderate heat. Add the EVOO and bacon and cook until the bacon crisps, about 3 minutes.

To the bacon add the garlic, onions, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are lightly caramelized.

Add the chopped Swiss chard, toss to coat, and wilt the chard down.

Turn the heat up to high and add the chicken stock and a couple of ladles, about a cup, of the starchy, boiling water from the cooking pasta. When the liquid comes up to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta with the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Place 1/4 cup of the ricotta mixture in the bottom of each of 4 pasta bowls and reserve.

Add the lemon juice to the Swiss chard. Drain the pasta well and toss with the greens for a minute or so to let the juices absorb into the pasta.

Turn the heat off and add the grated Parmesan cheese to the pasta and greens and continue to toss to distribute.

Serve the pasta immediately, dishing it up on top of the ricotta cheese.

Stir the lemony ricotta up in your bowl to mix with the pasta.


Well, if you're wondering why I skipped a day, today's meal is Sausage and Spinach Pastry Squares. I made that before and Mark really liked it. So, since Friday is his "comfort food" day, I'll be making that for him tomorrow, and then I won't have to skip any recipes. Aren't I smart?

I have never cooked Swiss Chard before. I made this recipe before, but probably with Kale. I actually really like Swiss chard! It's not nearly as bitter as Kale. And it's very pretty.

I used shells instead of cellantani (they didn't have it in the store). I just used a dash of red pepper flakes for the tiniest kick. I didn't want to burn our mouths out. I changed the recipe to use Parmesan cheese instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Rachael Ray says this is 4 servings, but you can definitely get 6 out of it.

This is a really good meal, however I like the pasta better without the ricotta cheese. RR says "In this dish, the hot pasta is served atop a mound of lemon-flavored ricotta cheese. The heat from the pasta will warm the cheese and send the lemony scent straight to your nose." It's ok, but I just don't like the flavor and texture of the ricotta that much. Tomorrow, we'll have leftover pasta, so we'll try it without the ricotta. The Parmesan is good enough. The pasta shells worked well, too. I like how they trap in the flavors.


  1. Great post. We are thinking about trying this one next week.

  2. I made this one tonight. I could not find the Swiss Chard, so I made it with Kale. I really like Kale, though, so it was OK. I hope to try it with Swiss Chard one day.

    We ate it with the lemon-flavored ricotta. We like ricotta as long as it is not by itself, so we liked it.

    Josh said he liked it, but he wished there was more meat. He's taking some leftover chicken with it in his lunch tomorrow.

    Great recipe. Great job posting it.

  3. Did you make it with the cellantani? I made it with kale last time and it was ok. Yeah, it's one of those "almost vegitarian" recipes. Bacon doesn't really count as meat to a meat-eater :) Did you take any pictures? I'm glad you liked it.