My daydreams can easily be broken down like this: 80% food, 19% wedding and 1% replacing the dead battery in our kitchen smoke alarm. Toward the end of last week the food portion of my daydreams was largely filled with thoughts of the ravioli with walnut cream sauce that my brother ordered for lunch on Christmas Eve, and it didn’t take too long for those daydreams to transition to recipe hunting. I’m not a huge fan of cream sauce, or at least I don’t allow myself to be for fear that I’d lose all self-control and treat myself far more often than I should, but sometimes you just have to satisfy your cravings, and I could not get that pasta sauce out of my mind.
I skimmed through several recipes for pasta with walnut cream sauce and ultimately settled on one that required buying the fewest number of ingredients and included some greens. Whether it’s with good reason or not, I tend to be skeptical of Food Network recipes, but this one is definitely a keeper: Penne with Swiss Chard and Leeks in a Walnut Cream Sauce. Imagine creamed spinach on pasta with a little crunch from toasted walnuts and the unexpected hint of tarragon. It was incredible, and if it weren’t for the cup of cream, I’d probably cook it once a week.
I made a few tweaks to the recipe to keep the grocery list short and to make use of things already in our pantry, and they all seemed to work just fine. We had frozen kale, so I picked up a bag of frozen spinach to supplement it, which both bumped up the amount of greens and eliminated the steps of washing and chopping the chard. There was no fresh tarragon at the store, so I used dried and added it with the greens. And finally, I used campanelle instead of penne. Dinner was ready in no time and devoured in no time. The simplicity of the recipe makes it great for a quick weeknight meal, but it’s indulgent enough that it would work well for a special occasion. Weeknight or weekend, you need to make this!