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Sunday, July 15, 2012

A quick and easy, DIY, Swiss chard pasta recipe

If you think this looks good you're going to love this quick and easy Swiss chard and lentil pasta recipe. Here's the thing, I hate over paying for food in restaurants. Which doesn't mean I'm turned off by expensive foods. If something is worth it, I can receive value no matter what the price. But I hate walking into a restaurant, ordering pasta marinara for $8.00 to $9.00 and having it taste like bland sauce from a can poured over over-cooked noodles.

My Soup & Chard Scrap Pasta Sauce Reicpe

I resent restaurants that serve food like that because I know for the price they are charging they can make it both better and healthier. Take my new Soup Scrap Pasta recipe as an example.

Swiss Chard, Tiny Tomatoes

Yesterday I took at peek at my garden and saw my once beautiful, perfectly green, Swiss chard leaves had been burnt to a crisp by the sun. The stalks were still good but the leaves were goners. Normally I think a lot of people (myself included) consider chard stems to be scraps. They either throw them away or compost them.

And I had three ripe sweet pea tomatoes. They're tiny. All three of these could fit on a nickel. LOL. These are from a volunteer plant that sprouted after my plant from last year died over the winter.

So what to do with my very petite bounty?

Cooking Pasta

I began by putting the water on to boil some pasta. My favorite is a 50/50 combination of traditional and whole wheat angel hair that I boil for 5 minutes before placing in a small strainer.

Tossed Pasta, Butter

To keep it from sticking I let it drain and cool just a bit in the colander then place it in a small bowl and toss it with a pat of melted butter that I melted on the stove top.

Chopped, Chard, Stems

I'd never cooked chard stems before, just the leaves. It looked like red celery so I sliced it like celery.

Saute, Chard Stems

Then I sauteed it in grape seed oil over medium heat. When it was done I turned the heat off but left the pot on the burner.

Canned, Lentil, Soup

And here's the kicker, due to my low ferritin level I need to eat more food that is high in iron and lentils are high in iron. So, I went to Whole Foods and bought five kinds of lentil soup to figure out who makes the best one. I grabbed the first can of Amy's Organic in the brown wrapper and cracked it open. With a large soup spoon I scooped out three heaping spoonfuls (about a third of the can), leaving behind as much liquid as possible, and threw them into the pot with the sauteed chard. The residual heat in the pan was enough to heat the soup and make it bubble and pop up.

The soup had enough flavor to it so I didn't need to add salt or pepper to the sauce.


Topped with a Sweet Pea Cherry this is what my breakfast looked like! It was delicious! The crunchiness of the chard was the perfect complement to the tender lentils. I'll be making this again and again. It's not going to win any awards. And I'm pretty certain professional chefs would look down on it since the lentils came from a soup can. But all I care about is figuring out healthy, quick, and affordable ways to improve my diet. And once I do, I want to share those ideas with you too!

Here's the recipe:

Soup & Chard Scrap Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:

4 small Swiss Chard stems
1 can of Amy's Organic Lentil Soup
1 tiny tomato
1 small pat of butter
1 TBS of Grape Seed Oil

Steps:
  1. Put pasta on to boil
  2. Slice chard into short pieces
  3. When done, remove pasta from heat and allow to drain in a colander
  4. Now place the same pot you used to boil your pasta back onto the burner and lower the heat to medium. 
  5. Add the grape seed oil to the pot, allow it to heat up, then toss in your chopped chard. Saute until cooked. Turn heat off.
  6. Open a can of lentil soup and add three heaping spoonfuls (I used a large soup spoon) to the chard, still in the pot, on the warm burner. Stir until soup is heated. (This should take about a minute)
  7. Remove pot with sauce from burner and turn the burner off
  8. Using a metal measuring cup on the now turned off burner, melt a small pat of butter over the residual heat
  9. Move the pasta from its colander into a small bowl, pour melted butter over it and toss.
  10. Plate pasta
  11. Using the same spoon you added the soup to the pot with, now use it to add the sauce to the plated pasta
  12. Top with a small fresh tomato
  13. Enjoy!
I'm not sure of the exact costs but I am sure that it probably cost less than a dollar to make this serving of pasta and it's far healthier and more delicious than what I typically pay $8.00 for in a restaurant.

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