March is one of those bridge months. Winter is holding on and Spring is trying to break in. It's the time of year when it's a sunny 60° Fahrenheit one day and the next you get a blizzard. When that happened last week, I whipped up this recipe that brings together this clash of the seasons in one comforting bowl.
In this month's Degustabox there was a box of Tolerant Green Lentil and Beet penne, which just seemed perfect to make on a snow day. Tolerant pasta uses legume-based flours like chickpea, lentil, and black bean flours and is certified organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, and kosher. Their products are a good alternative to traditional pasta if you have any food intolerance issues without sacrificing texture or taste.
Even as the snow was accumulating outside, I didn't want to make a heavy, completely winter style pasta dish. I wanted to keep a "Think Spring" mindset. That's when I decided to reach for lemon, butter, and basil. Lemon butter sauce would give things a creamy, yet fresh twist. To add a little more nutrition, color, and bulk, I reached for the Swiss chard. Adding Swiss chard made sense, seeing as how it is a relative of beets. In case you're curious, my mind just happened to connect the ingredients in the recipe creation process, the pasta doesn't taste like beets at all.
Needless to say, the result of my crazy thought process is a creamy, comforting pasta recipe with a burst of freshness. It's a dish where winter meets spring in the best possible way.
Lemon Butter Penne with Chard
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 cups Swiss chard, destemmed and thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- In a large pot boil the water for the pasta. Cook until it is al dente (tender but still has a bit of bite to it).
- In a large saute, pan heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until lightly fragrant and golden in color.
- Add the Swiss chard and saute until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, basil and crushed red pepper. Stir until the butter is melted.
- Strain the pasta from the water, adding it directly to the saute pan.
- Toss the pasta in the lemon butter sauce until it is well coated.
- Serve immediately.
Of course, you can use whatever pasta you like here. Plus, you can have fun by sprinkling on toppings like toasted, chopped walnuts and/or salty cheese such as feta. And, as we were devouring this dinner, I made a mental note that adding shrimp would be an excellent variation.
Photos by Renato Ghio