Monday, March 10, 2014

When Sidekicks Take Over



As mystery writers, most of us make sure our sleuths have trusty sidekicks. In my Domestic Diva Mysteries, Sophie has a huge group of friends, but there's no question that her best friend and across the street neighbor, Nina Reid Norwood is Sophie's partner in crime. When Sophie needs a hand sleuthing, Nina is willing and able.

In the Paws and Claws Mysteries, poor Holly has two sidekicks! Trixie, the rascally Jack Russell Terrier, and Twinkletoes, the nosy calico kitten, are always sniffing out trouble.

Most of the time sidekicks know their places. But once in a while, a sidekick simply shoves her way to the fore, grabbing the attention. And that's what happened to this dish.

For decades, pasta has been a star. It's the backbone, the diva, really, of countless dishes. Pesto, carbonara, and Alfredo play second fiddle to rigatoni, spaghetti and linguine. But Victoria Abbott's posts have been reminding me that the carbs we love so much ought to be scaled back, and so it was that greens came to the fore in this dish.

We know greens are good for us. Great, in fact! Loaded with vitamins, full of fiber, and yet, they're always the sidekick. The third wheel, even. Reluctantly included out of some sense of duty. I don't think there has been a single Mystery Lovers' Kitchen blogger who hasn't at one time or another said she was trying to work more veggies and greens into her diet. So today I offer a dish in which Swiss Chard (trumpets blowing here) is the king, and pasta has been relegated to the lowly position of sidekick.

I used rainbow Swiss Chard, which is a fancy way of saying they combined red and yellow chard at the chard factory. I switched up the measurements, so that Swiss Chard is the dominant ingredient, instead of the pasta. Four ounces of pasta is still a lot of pasta! But in this dish, by reducing the quantity of pasta, the greens dominate and the pasta takes a back seat.


Swiss Chard Rules!

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup peppers
1 bunch (about 6-8 good-sized leaves) Swiss Chard
3/4 cup chicken broth
4 ounces Farfalle or other pasta
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil over medium high and saute the chopped onion. Meanwhile, mince the garlic and cut the peppers. Thinly slice the colorful stems of the Swiss Chard and add to the onions. Cut the remaining Swiss Chard by folding in half and slicing out the tougher middle part. Slice those backbones and add to the pan. Cut the rest of the chard leaves and set aside. When the onions and chard stems have softened, add the garlic and the peppers. Stir and cook about one minute. Add the Swiss chard leaves and the chicken broth. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the chard leaves have wilted and the liquid is reduced by about half.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta.

Add the cooked pasta to the Swiss Chard mixture. Stir in the cream and the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Cook the tough stems with the onions.
Where did all that Swiss Chard go?

Swiss Chard Rules!

11 comments:

  1. Krista, I love the post. What fun to talk about a dish like we talk about our characters! I've been cutting back on carbs for years. This is a perfect way to do it. You still get the flavor and texture, and that's what it's all about. Savoring those special moments. :) Mmm.

    Daryl / Avery

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    1. It's hard to give up on those comforting carbs! But this dish was a tasty way to scale back while still enjoying them.

      ~Krista

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  2. Swiss chard is wonderful stuff. It's pretty and delicious. Who needs anything more?

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    1. I like Swiss Chard, too, Libby. But just plain Swiss Chard has grown a little old around here. ; )

      ~Krista

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  3. Swiss chard is one of my favorites. It's so healthy, and it's really easy to grow. The best part is that you can keep cutting leaves all summer and fall, up until hard frost. It freezes well, and the colors are so pretty. It's really worth having a few plants.

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    1. I may have to plant some this year!

      ~Krista

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  4. It is beautiful, Krista! What a nice post and it sounds delish too. We have cut way back on starch, but this is the best of all worlds.

    Thanks!

    MJ

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    1. Can you eat this much starch, Mary Jane?

      ~Krista

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  5. This looks yummy and delicious and I'm adding this to my file.

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    1. I think you'll like it, Dru. We gobbled it up!

      ~Krista

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  6. Wonderful post, Krista. This so reminds me of my beloved late Aunt Mary, who was (in so many ways) my sidekick. Almost every Sunday from early spring through the middle of fall, Aunt Mary made a big old pan of "greens" (including Swiss Chard) sauteed with garlic and olive oil. Your additions are wonderful and she would have loved it!

    ~ Cleo

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