Somewhere Over the Rainbow Chard

I love Swiss chard, it’s one of the best greens in my opinion. It cooks up velvety and has a beautiful earthy flavor.

Rainbow chard from Malibu (more glamorous than other rainbow chard)

Rainbow chard from Malibu (more glamorous than other rainbow chard)

So I was thrilled at the Friday farmer’s market here in Topanga to discover bags overstuffed with leaves of rainbow chard — white, golden and red. The chard was grown in Malibu, so they were charging $5 for it. (Usually I have rainbow chard growing in my own garden for free, but things have lately gone fallow.) Smitten, I bought the chard anyway.

My favorite thing to do with chard is to make a Ligurian chard torta. My second favorite thing is to serve it in pasta drenched with a fruity olive oil. Since I already blogged about the former, here goes the latter!


I’m not always a huge fan of whole wheat pasta. But I find in certain dishes, it works nicely. The more rustic flavor of whole wheat, in this case, pairs nicely with the earthiness of the chard and the pungency of the pecorino romano. Plus, this is a healthy dish you could proudly serve even your most yogic friends! (Although you may need to leave out the guanciale…)


*    *    *

Whole wheat penne with swiss chard and guanciale
serves 4 – 6

1 lb. whole wheat penne
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. guanciale (or pancetta), thinly sliced*
2 cloves garlic, mashed and chopped
1 large bunch rainbow chard (about 1 lb.), washed and roughly chopped
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
more extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

*You can leave the guanciale or pancetta out for a nice vegetarian version of this dish. Just be sure to season to taste with salt.

Bring water (salted with 1 tbsp. salt) to a boil in a large pot.

While water is heating up, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the guanciale until crisp. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Then add the chopped chard. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes — until the chard is thoroughly wilted.

Boil the penne according to directions until cooked al dente. Drain (do not rinse). Save 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss the penne with the pasta water into the pan with the chard, and place over high heat. Stir frequently until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and toss in grated pecorino.

Serve on individual plates, drizzling liberally with more extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if desired.

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 00:20:01

    probably pretty good for the old blood pressure too.


  2. russianmartini
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 03:13:26


  3. russianmartini
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 03:14:09

    Dude – Swiss chard is one of the best greens, hands down. Oh wait, you already said that. 😉


  4. Benjamin J Thompson (@ThompsonBenjami)
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 05:47:00

    Interesting. I make a pasta with swiss chard as well, with butternut squash and butter beans.


  5. jewel
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 11:20:15

    Mmmm, l LOVE rainbow chard! Wouldn’t have thought of pairing it with whole wheat, but am now…


  6. linnetmoss
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 12:26:27

    Mmmm. I am terribly envious because our fresh local greens have petered out for another year. Your pasta dish is my favorite way to use any type of greens. I make it veggie and add red pepper flakes plus a small squeeze of lemon juice (this helps if reducing the salt)! Another great variation is kale or rapini, with cannellini beans and toasted breadcrumbs as garnish.


  7. rachelocal
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 12:45:54

    I usually eat chard for breakfast with sunny-side up eggs but now you’ve combined two of my favorite things: pasta and swiss chard. I’ll make this one for sure – easy for a weeknight. Sometimes the simplest meals are the best, right?


    • scolgin
      Nov 22, 2013 @ 16:09:13

      Especially on a week night. You should check out the “Sonoma Market Breakfast” on my blog if you want to take that swiss chard/egg idea to a delicious extreme some morning…


  8. Michelle
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 01:54:41

    That looks great. But, even more, thanks for reminding me to make that fabulous Ligurian chard torta again. 🙂


  9. Jessamine in PDX
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 19:45:28

    That pasta has me drooling. Also I can promise you that I will NEVER leave out the guanciale!


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