Consider Swiss chard for a different take on pesto

THE WASHINGTON POSTOctober 30, 2013 

Swiss Chard and Rosemary Pesto Pasta offers a different take on the usual pesto made with basil.


You’d never know what the pesto’s main green ingredient is; whether that’s a bonus or not depends on who’s at your table. But odds are good that everyone will like it.

Stick with green chard here, because rainbow or red chard will yield a pesto that’s unappetizingly brown. The pesto on its own is good with grilled salmon or chicken. If you have a few extra minutes, toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until lightly browned. Cool before adding to the pesto mixture.

Try with salad of radicchio and endive. Adapted from “The Clean Plates Cookbook: Sustainable, Delicious and Healthier Eating for Every Body,” by Jared Koch and Jill Silverman Hough (Running Press, 2012).


Estimated time, about 35 minutes; 4 to 6 servings

Kosher salt

10 ounces dried, shaped whole-wheat pasta, such as fusilli

5 to 6 stems dark-green Swiss chard (see intro)

Several stems flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons packed rosemary leaves

4 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or more as needed

1/2 cup pine nuts (2.4 ounces)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the pasta. Cook for 5 minutes less than the package directs (to keep the pasta from getting mushy), taste-testing a piece for al-dente doneness.

Meanwhile, separate the chard leaves from their ribs and stems, reserving the stems for another use if desired and stuffing the leaves into a food processor as you work. Pluck enough parsley leaves to yield 1/4 cup packed and enough rosemary leaves to yield 2 packed tablespoons, and place them both in the food processor. Smash and peel the garlic cloves, then place them in the food processor along with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pine nuts. Pulse until finely chopped; stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the motor running, gradually add the oil to form a well-incorporated pesto. Taste, and add cheese if needed. Season with salt and/or pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot (off the heat). Add all of the pesto and 1/4 cup of the cooking water, tossing to coat evenly. If the pesto seems too thick, stir in some or all of the remaining cooking water.

Divide among wide, shallow bowls. Serve right away, with more cheese at the table.

Nutrition per serving (based on 6): 370 calories, 9 g protein, 39 g carbohydrates, 22 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 105 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

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