Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pasta opportunista: Farfalle with chard, mushrooms, bacon and three cheeses

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I was fretting around 4pm today because I'm due for a Costco run and wasn't sure what I'd be making for dinner tonight. No meat in the house, no fish, not much in the way of green matter either. Not enough leftovers to call dinner. What to do, what to do?

I was looking forlornly at two cans of white kidney beans in the pantry when the doorbell rang. There stood Victor, our generous neighbor with the plot in the community garden up the hill, bag in hand. The last of the winter greens, he said. A huge bunch of chard, just picked. Beautiful soft ruffled lettuce. And curly kale. Victor, my savior! My angel! My telepathic delivery boy!

Victor, if you're reading this, and in case I was not effusive enough: THANK YOU.

So, along with some mushrooms I picked up the other day at the 99 Cents Only store (see this article on my Examiner page for more on my bargain produce shopping habits) and a few other pantry staples, I put together this unbelievably good pasta. Any greens would do, I think, although chard is smooth and not bitter, which is nice here. Nothing was too aggressive in flavor. It was just right.

Farfalle with chard, mushrooms, bacon and three cheeses
  • 1 lb dried farfalle (or other short pasta)
  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 2 oz crumbled cooked bacon (or 2 strips uncooked bacon, diced)
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 oz sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 large bunch rainbow chard, chopped
  • 4 oz brebille (soft sheep cheese)
  • 4 oz chevre (soft goat cheese)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 oz shredded Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cook the farfalle in plenty of water according to the package directions. Mine took 15 minutes, which was exactly the right amount of time to make the topping.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta (and the uncooked bacon if using) and cook 4-5 minutes, until most of the fat is rendered and the bits are starting to brown. Add the shallots and garlic and cook one more minute. Add the mushrooms and cook until they're soft and have released their liquid, another 3-4 minutes. Add the chard and cover the pan for a minute to let the chard wilt. Then remove the lid and cook, stirring often, until the chard is cooked but still green. Turn off the heat.

In a large bowl, put the brebille and the chevre. (Their textures and tastes are similar; you could use 8 oz goat cheese if the brebille is hard to find, although I buy it at Costco and I think they carry it at Trader Joe.) Add a few spoonfuls of the hot pasta cooking water and the olive oil and stir; the cheese will loosen nicely so that when you add the pasta it will coat it evenly.

When the pasta is done, drain it, add it to the bowl, and then add the topping and the Romano cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


RecipeGirl said...

I love the addition of chard & mushrooms. I've been on a pretty big chard-kick lately. YUM!

Erika Kerekes said...

I love chard too - particularly the contrast between the soft leaves and the crunchy fibrous stems. And the colors! Don't get me started.

I don't cook with mushrooms often because neither kid likes them. But both parents do, so sometimes I slip them in. Last night kid #1 ate the pasta but picked out the mushrooms (no problem, more for us). Kid #2 had cereal. Oh well. His loss.

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