Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sicilian Bean and Swiss Chard with Pasta

Growing up in Sicily in the early 1970s this was one of my favorite dishes. Lovingly made by my mom and grandmother, I remember asking for seconds and thirds of this particular dish, stuffing my little 5 year old body to the gunnels. The Swiss chard adds texture and makes this dish, which would otherwise be pasta fagioli,  a bit sweeter. It may seem odd to Americans that a child's favorite dish involved vegetables, but  I think food preferences really are based on what one is brought up eating - that and Sicilians really know what they're doing when it comes to preparing vegetables!

1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil.
20 oz canned tomatoes chopped (include juice)
1- 15 oz can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
1 lb bunch Swiss chard, washed, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2" pieces (I used red Swiss
    chard here)
1/2lb to 3/4 lb multi grain gluten free penne (I used Schar Gluten-Free pasta.  I
    recommend De Cecco or Barilla pasta if you don't have a wheat gluten allergy)
dried oregano to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in large saute pan. Add garlic, onion, carrot and celery and cook until soft. Add tomatoes and cook about 15 minutes. Add beans and cook until heated through for about 5 minutes. Add oregano, salt and pepper to taste. While sauce is cooking prepare pasta according to package directions (make sure you cook the pasta in the amount of water specified or the pasta will come out sticky if you don't use enough water). During the last three minutes of pasta cooking time add the Swiss chard to the pasta and cook until the Swiss chard is tender. Drain pasta and Swiss chard reserving about one cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the swiss chard, sauce and the reserved cooking liquid.

Makes 2-4 servings.

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