Penne with Chard and Beans
Chard is a beloved kitchen-garden vegetable in Italian cuisine, from which this pasta dish is inspired. Combined with beans and fresh tomatoes, this stick-to-your-ribs late summer pasta dish will satisfy the heartiest of appetites. A big salad and fruity dessert complete the meal.
Serves: 6 or more
- 1 good-sized bunch chard, any variety
—Swiss, green, rainbow, etc. (about 10 to 12 ounces)
- 10 to 12 ounces penne pasta (or other short, chunky shape)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine or water
- 1 1/ 2 to 2 pounds diced ripe tomatoes (see note)
- 15- to 16-ounce can cannellini (white beans), red beans,
or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, or more, to taste, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup raisins or currants
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cut the leaves away from the chard stems, but don’t discard. Chop the leaves coarsely and slice the stems thinly. Rinse both well.
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta in rapidly simmering water for 10 to 12 minutes (or according to package directions), until al dente, then drain.
In the meantime, heat the oil in an extra-large saucepan or steep-sided stir-fry pan. Add the onions and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine or water and the chard with stems. Cover and cook just until the chard wilts down, stirring once or twice, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, beans, and raisins or currants. Cook just until everything is well heated through, another 4 to 5 minutes.
Combine the cooked pasta with the sauce in a large serving bowl. Toss well, then season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss again. Serve at once.
Note: Substitute one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes if good, fresh tomatoes are unavailable.