Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eat Your Bitter Greens

Swiss chard, dandelion greens and kale. All new to me. I didn't grow up with these bitter greens. My loss.

I remember my girlfriend's Nonna (grandmother from Italy) stopping on the side of the road, getting out of the car to pick wild dandelion greens. What the heck was she going to do with them?

Make a dandelion pie, what else?

I have learned to love these greens, they are pretty and healthy and you can do a lot with them.

Here, I toss them with garlic and top them with ricotta salata (a dried ricotta cheese) and serve over pasta.

Simple, yet special. I think of my friend's nonna every time I make this.

Pasta w/ Swiss Chard & Ricotta Salata:

1/2 lb. of dried pasta
1 large bunch of Swiss Chard, washed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
salt & pepper
hot pepper flakes
3/4 cup pasta water
olive oil
1/4 cup ricotta salata (this is a dry cheese that resembles feta)

Boil pasta as per directions in salted water (don't forget to save 3/4 cup of the starchy water).

Blanch the Swiss chard for about 6 minutes in boiling water. Drain and wipe out the skillet. Transfer the wilted greens to a cutting board and chop.

In the same skillet you blanched the chard in, heat olive oil and add the garlic and saute on medium heat for about a minute. Add the greens and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add a dash of hot pepper flakes.

When the pasta is done, add the pasta and the reserved water to the skillet w/ the greens and spoon into bowls.

Top with shredded ricotta salata cheese and drizzle with good olive oil (which I did after I took the photo!). Serve immediately.

Eat your bitter greens and enjoy!


mil said...

And my Italian grandma (never called her Nonna, don't know why)
would pick dandelion greens for a salad. Absolutely delicious!!!
Those were the days when you could pick them yourself with no worries about fertilizer or pesticide.

The Japanese Redneck said...

I can handle the Kale. Don't like swiss chard and won't grow it again. And never had the dandelion greens.

Spudsmama said...

And once that snow melts, plant some Swiss chard! I bought a small red chard last spring at a farmers' market and stuck it in a planter under my daugher's peach tree. We had a mild and rainy summer, and that one plant is still growing strong!It opened my eyes to the beauty of a front yard veggie garden. Right now there's spinach and other greens with the chard, and two kinds of parsley and basil. I'm hoping I get another Rutgers tomato plant from a friend this spring. Nothing beats a Jersey tomato, even if it's grown in San Diego:)


Anonymous said...

I love bitter greens. Always intrigued by Laurie Colwin's 2 cents in HOME COOKING - "Don't serve it to men," said an English friend of mine who is a demon cook. "Men don't like bitter greens." - Henry, surely, isn't turning up his nose at this wonderful pasta dish?

Stacey Snacks said...

My husband didn't love this dish as much I did, but he didn't hate it either. He said he was "neutral" about bitter greens. So maybe Colwin is right about the "man" thing.

Henry turns his knows up to not much these days......except for mushrooms and stinky cheeses. He is entitled to despise 2 things only.
He has totally turned into a good eater.

Marine Loves Papi... said...

My nonna made this too! Oh memories! Delicious dish :)

Stacey Snacks said...

I meant to say "nose" obviously.

Anonymous said...

I nose but it was so cute. One more note on bitter greens. I made a salad today, a riff on an recent food52 Amanda Hesser recipe. You use kale, and to soften it up, you manhandle it, really dig in with your hands, massaging the dressing into the de-ribbed, torn leaves. Then, you let it sit awhile, approximately 1/2 hour. The kale transforms into this cool almost seaweed like thing, really good, and good for ya! I combined it w/ some romaine, slivered granny smith spritzed w/meyer lemon, grated carrot, toasted almonds. Garlicky/lemony/touch of balsamic dressing. Another road to the bitter end!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I crave dishes like this, am I weird?

Lisa Faley said...

I love those noodles Stacy! Wish I could find them here. Super cute - I have a thing for cute noodles ;o)
I make this dish all the time! But have to say, I've never even heard of dried ricotta - must look for it. I top mine with fresh mozzarella or asiago shavings.... either way it's YUM!
PS My hubby still "tries" to like mushrooms, but they are number one on his don't like list ;o)

tasteofbeirut said...

In our cooking we love greens, no green is a stranger; I learned early on to love swiss chard and dandelions! we make stuffed leaves, salads, dumplings, etc. Too bad I am not as lucky as your friend and can't seem to find wild ones growing on the side of the road!

kat said...

My kind of simple winter supper!

lisa is cooking said...

I've come to really like all kinds of greens. Just yesterday, I stated that kale has become my favorite vegetable lately, and I meant it! I love greens with pasta with lots of red pepper flakes.

Dana said...

I'm coming around to the bitter green way of life. They have to be pretty mellow and cooked just right though. I'm pretty into lacinato kale these days - might try it with pasta. And I LOVE ricotta salata.