Lemon-Scented Pasta With Swiss Chard & Ricotta ~ The Garden of Eating - a sinfully good blog about food

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lemon-Scented Pasta With Swiss Chard & Ricotta

I first concocted this heavenly pasta dish last August. We had driven up to Vermont with my mom-in-law to introduce our three-month-old son to his great aunts and cousins in Putney and Burlington.

Lemon-scented pasta with swiss chard and ricotta cheese by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

It probably sounds idyllic but it was kind of a rough trip in a lot of ways. Our son absolutely HATED the car as an infant so the four-hour drive to and from Vermont felt as if it took about a year off all of our lives (especially in our sleep-deprived state.)

Thankfully, my mom-in-law, Liz, has near endless patience for her grandson and she and I took turns sitting in the backseat and trying to him from screaming BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE!  At one point, this included wiping his tiny feet repeatedly with some Wet Wipes we found on the floor of the car (don't ask me why this would work - the important thing is that it did get him to stop crying for a few minutes.)

And the drive was not all bad, of course. The scenery was uniquely beautiful - I am always awestruck by how gorgeous the North Country farmland is. On our way back to New York, we stopped at a farm and bought a little tub of fresh sheep's milk ricotta cheese.

Ricotta cheese by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I don't usually wax poetic about cheese but this one was kind of special - pure white and so soft - it made me think of angels and sleeping newborn babies.

When we got back to my in-laws' house, there was a ton of Swiss chard begging to be picked in the garden.

Rinsing the chard by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I thought it would be tasty to sautee some chard with onions and garlic, then mix it with the pasta, throw in gobs of this amazing cheese and top with some pinenuts, basil and a healthy dose of lemon zest.

Sauteeing onions, garlic and chard ribs by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I was right, it was dee-li-cious!

Pasta draining by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I found some similarly tasting-looking fresh ricotta recently and decided to recreate this meal. I served it in this great big pasta bowl I got at a yardsale years ago when we lived in Washington, DC. I love its gentle curves, subtle crackle glaze and the fact that it was actually made in Italy.

Pasta bowl by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I don't remember much about the yardsale other than that it was in our old 'hood, Adams Morgan, but I like to think that an Italian diplomat was unloading some belongings before moving on to his next posting in some exotic locale. A more likely scenario is that some college kid bought it at Bed Bath & Beyond but I prefer my story -- much more romantic.

Lemon-scented pasta with swiss chard and ricotta cheese by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I'm also submitting this to my friend Kirsten who is hosting the Presto Pasta Nights event this week.

Happy Summer!

Lemon-Scented Pasta With Swiss Chard & Ricotta
Serves 4-6


* 1 lb of pasta (use whatever you like)
* 1 large bunch chard, rinsed, dried, ribs removed, chopped and set aside, greens chopped into ribbons
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
* 1 tub (15 oz) ricotta cheese
* Zest of 1 large lemon (since you're using the peel, I recommend using an organic lemon to avoid both wax and pesticides)
* A generous handful of pinenuts
* 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
* A pinch of red pepper flakes
* Sea salt to taste
* Freshly ground black pepper to taste
* 3 Tbsps olive oil


1. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta - once it boils add the pasta and cook until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsps olive oil in a wide saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add red pepper flakes, onions and chard ribs and sautee for around 4 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and sautee another 2 minutes or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Toss in the chard greens, stirring well to combine with the hot mixture in the pan, and sautee until wilted and bright green - another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

3. Drain the cooked pasta, rinse quickly with cold water, then return to the pot or place in whatever serving dish you plan to use and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.

4. Add the chard mixture to the pasta and toss to combine. Top with the ricotta cheese, lemon zest, basil and pinenuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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Kirsten Lindquist said...

thanks for sharing with PPN! I can't believe Will is two (right?!) Amazing how time flies!

nutrisoul said...

Sounds absolutely delicious Eve! Will give it a whirl and let you know how it turns out! Thanks for sharing it with us!! Lysa

Eve Fox said...

@Kirsten, yup, 2 whole years old! Makes a world of difference. Been loving your blog - you're always an inspiration.

@Lysa, hope you like it! I keep seeing your face as the featured practitioner in Sunflower on that big TV by the exit (though they spell your name with an "i" instead of a "y" - but I still like seeing you there.)

Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood said...

Small tip I learned when I was a culinary school student (I wrote about it here, if you're interested: "Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood" http://amzn.to/eOKJWw - on Amazon Kindle): toast those pine nuts first - it brings out the flavor and the aroma is incredible.

The Food Hunter said...

I'm new to your blog...love it all so far. Looking forward to seeing more.

Eve Fox said...

Thanks @The Food Hunter! So glad to hear it.

RunNicRun said...

I live in NH, right on the VT border and couldn't agree more, New England is beautiful! We also have some great local cheeses.

This recipe looks amazing and I am bookmarking it to make it after my next trip to the farmer's market which is sure to fill my kitchen with kale and swiss chard.

petalumajoe said...

Oh, man, you do come up with some gems. Now, more than ever, am I mourning the loss of most of my ripe Meyers. I wonder how the Morning Fog ricotta style cheese from the LaFranchi Cheese Co. in Nicasio might work in this...