When I returned from my cruise, one of the first things my daughter said to me was, “I’m really glad you’re home, but I just wish you cooked as well as Dad!”
Gee, thanks a lot. And huh???
So I asked exactly what her dad had cooked while I was gone. “Mac and Cheeze, spaghetti, Chili Mac….” I immediately noticed a theme–no, not that he was mostly using my recipes but that he was cooking her favorite substance on earth: Pasta. I vowed right then and there to make more pasta.
I have a theory that E will eat anything as long as it’s mixed with pasta. To test it, I took a couple of her least favorite ingredients, portabella mushrooms and red chard, and combined them with spiral pasta and chickpeas, two of her favorite ingredients. She enjoyed the dish so much that she didn’t even mind the hint of spiciness I managed to sneak in with a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes.
Fortunately, I’ve found a brand of 100% organic whole wheat pasta that we all like, Delallo, so I don’t feel guilty about adding a little more pasta to our diet, especially if it gets my little greens-hater to eat more leafy greens. Of course, you can make this recipe completely gluten-free by using your favorite gluten-free pasta. Buon appetito!
- 1 pound whole wheat rotini or other spiral pasta
- 6 leaves Swiss chard (1 bunch, about 10 ounces trimmed)
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced
- 8-10 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 4 ounces baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste (I used 2 tbsp. of double-strength)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 can), rinsed and drained
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice (or 1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar)
- Heat water for pasta and begin to cook it according to package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, wash the chard and remove the stems; set them aside for another use. Chop the leaves coarsely.
- Over medium-high heat, heat a large non-stick pan. Add the onion and sprinkle it lightly with salt. Cook, stirring, until onion begins to brown. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and mushrooms and reduce heat. Cook, stirring, until mushrooms soften, adding a tablespoon or two of water if needed to prevent sticking. Add tomato paste and water and stir to combine. Add chickpeas and simmer until pasta is done.
- When pasta is cooked, remove and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid before draining. Add 1/2 cup of the liquid to chickpeas and mushrooms. Stir in the chard and cover. Cook until chard is just wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the pasta, add additional pasta water if necessary to moisten, and add salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, stir in orange juice or balsamic vinegar.