PASTA WITH GREENS IN WALNUT CREAM SAUCE

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!

Eggs + Chard in Purgatory

efore my flight home from Atlanta on Sunday I stopped into a couple airport shops for some reading material.  After much deliberation (seriously, I walked through about six different shops) I settled on InStyle, Bon Appetit, and Food Network Magazine.  I used to love InStyle, but what a let down!  Cooking magazines, on the other hand, rarely disappoint.  I subscribed to Bon Appetit for a few years, and I dropped it about a year ago after my pile of things to make was too overwhelming and I figured I’d save a few trees and start actually making some of the recipes before I accumulated even more magazines.  I miss it, but luckily I get to catch up whenever I go to my parents’ and read my mom’s copies.  Whenever I pick up my own copy, it’s a special treat.

I spent most of the flight staring at food photos and getting hungry, and I knew I needed to cook something once I got home.  After splurging all weekend and eating next to no vegetables I was leaning toward something on the healthy side.  The recipe that really jumped out at me was Eggs in Purgatory with Artichoke Hearts, Potatoes, and Capers from Bon Appetit.  I made my own version by swapping out the artichoke hearts and capers for green chard and serving potatoes on the side.  Add a hunk of crusty bread, and you’ve got yourself a meal.

Eggs + Chard in Purgatory

4-5 leaves green chard

1 small-medium onion, diced

1 28-oz can tomato sauce

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp (or more) red pepper flakes

4 eggs

Grated parmesan (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Rinse and dry the chard.  Sorry for the terrible photos – this problem should go away once my birthday present arrives in the next few days!

Chop the chard into 1/2-in strips.  I discarded the thick stems, but only because the weren’t looking so great.  If yours are OK, throw ‘em in.

Heat a little oil in a (preferably oven-proof) skillet over medium heat, and add the onion.

After a few minutes add the garlic, chard and red pepper flakes.  Saute for a few minutes until the chard softens a bit.

Add the tomatoes.  I used a can of chunky tomato sauce that was in my cupboard, but diced tomatoes would work, too.  If you use diced tomatoes you might want to drain off a bit of the liquid.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add more pepper flakes if needed.

If you’re using an oven-proof skillet you can make four wells in the sauce and crack the eggs right in.  Otherwise, transfer the mixture to a baking dish, make wells, and crack the eggs in.

Bake for 12-16 minutes, until the whites are set.  I would pay more attention to the time than to the looks because, at least in my opinion, baked eggs never look quite as done as fried egg whites, even when they’re completely cooked.

Carefully spoon the tomato sauce into a bowl and top it with an egg or two.

A little sprinkle of parmesan is the perfect finishing touch.