19 June 2007

Rainbow Chard and Caramelized Onion Pasta

The Rainbow Chard looked good yesterday at Weaver Street Market, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I have limited experience with the more exotic (to me, anyhow) greens but am generally a fan, so with the housemates all being out of town it seemed like a good opportunity to try something that might fall entirely flat on its face. That's not quite what happened, but... well, I'll explain.

Recipe: Cursory Google search turned up several intriguing possibilities, and I went with this one because I'm generally a sucker for anything that says "caramelized" and I already had the requisite pasta (though a spaghetti-linguine blend, which would prove a bit problematic) in the fridge. The recipe:
Rainbow Chard and Carmelized Onion Pasta

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 C. chard stems, chopped finely
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 large yellow onions, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sugar
2 C. torn chard leaves
2 Tbs. port
12 oz. egg noodles or fettuccine
2 C. veggie or chicken stock

Heat the oil and butter in large skillet over med. heat. Add the onions and sauté them for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the onions with the sugar, reduce heat to medium-low and sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, until translucent in the center and browned at the edges, about 15 min. Pour the port over the onions and stir. Remove from heat. Remove onions with slotted spoon to a plate. Do not rinse or wash skillet.

Bring large pot of water to boil. Return skillet to the stove when water almost boils. Add the stock and chard stems to skillet and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 min. Stir in salt and pepper, and keep warm over low heat.

Add noodles to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and add noodles to skillet with stock. Add chard leaves and onions and cook for 5 min. until chard is wilted and pasta is heated through.

Modifications: So, several caveats. I sliced up three (3) onions but, after another look at my pan, decided to use only about two of them. I considered using more port - and should've - but didn't. I also added a (small) head of roasted garlic to the stock-and-chard-stems stage of the recipe. And, as it later occurred to me, I should've about halved the stock, since I wasn't going to be taking the pasta from al dente to cooked but instead just mixing in everything with it.

Results: In retrospect, the substitution of my cooked pasta for the proscribed semi-cooked pasta was one of two things that undid the recipe - I also didn't sauteé the chard quite long enough, and it overwhelmed everything a bit with its semi-rawness. As per usual, I didn't add salt or pepper, and again probably should've. A bit.

To accompany, I had parmigianno reggiano, several slices of a loaf of potato bread with onion and rosemary (also from the Weave, on clearance) and the balance of a bottle of Dr. Beckermann's Liebraumilch Qualitatswein (a Trader Joe's 4$-a-bottle stalwart). The wine is... very sweet, but somehow not saccharine. And not a chardonnay. It was very hot today, and the wine went down easily (esp. at only 9.5% ABV). The cheese was fine but not quite the right call with the pasta. But the bread was an excellent, excellent addition - good enough that I'll probably be fishing through the leftovers of the pasta for the chard and onions to pile on a few slices of the bread for a sandwich tomorrow.

Conclusions: I overreached with this recipe and the audibles. For now, chard and the various other tougher greens move back into the "as a simple side-dish only" category until I can figure out their mysterious ways more reliably.


Claire said...

I don't know why anyone would caramelize onions. Onions are perfect as they are, and as such should be respected and not treated like a mere pie filling.

lynnlandries said...

wow, some people will complain about ANYTHING! I love onions as they are AND carmelized and this recipe sounds GREAT!