Pasta with Swiss Chard Stems and Sausage

I’ve been cleaning out my Florida freezer in preparation for my departure for the season–can’t believe three months have passed so quickly!

I had a bag of beautifully cleaned and chopped swiss chard stems from the farmers’ market one week during the winter.  I must have used the leaves in something and forgotten about the stems.

These stems are actually much more delicate than the leaves, and have none of that iron-y aftertaste that the leaves sometimes do.  Normally, I would make a frittata with these, but tonight I’m in the mood for pasta.

I also had some cooked chicken sausage in the freezer.  When I buy it, I immediately boil it and freeze it, then occasionally slice up a link and add it to some pasta or stew.  Add to that a ripe Florida tomato and some shallots, and I had a dish that I would definitely serve to guests.

The swiss chard stems (already par-boiled before I froze them) get drained and sauteed with the shallot for a good while, until they begin to caramelize–about 10 minutes.  They take on a wonderfully nutty flavor at this point.  The pre-cooked chicken sausage pieces then get added to heat them (no need to sear them in oil–they’re dry enough already).  The tomato gets dipped in boiling water, then peeled and diced.  All is brought together with a bit of chicken stock and some raw extra-virgin olive oil drizzled on top.

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this dish makes an absolute superstar out of the stems–after you try this, you’ll never discard them again.

Pasta with Swiss Chard Stems and Sausage

serves 4

1 lb. spaghetti

stems from 2 lbs. swiss chard, chopped into 1/2″ pieces, blanched for 5 minutes

2 medium shallots

2 ripe tomatoes

1/2 c chicken broth

4 tbls olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

grated pecorino romano for sprinkling

Allow swiss chard stems to drain in a strainer, then squeeze lightly to remove extra water.  In a broad skillet, saute the shallots in 3 tablespoons of oil for about 2 minutes.  Add swiss chard stems and saute on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until slightly caramelized.

Add in the pieces of diced chicken sausage as well as the broth, and reduce heat.

Dip tomato in boiling water for about 20 seconds.  Remove and peel.

Dice into 1/2″ cubes and add to skillet.

Simmer mixture in skillet on low heat until pasta is cooked.

Add pasta, along with 1/2 cup cooking liquid.  Toss and saute for a minute to incorporate.  Turn off heat and drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil.  Add salt and black pepper and serve with plenty of grated pecorino romano.

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