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Sunday, July 24, 2011

First Real Meal in Our New Apartment

Ok, we've been here a week, so this isn't really our first meal. The others weren't imaginary, but not actually satisfying either. That's expected when you're trying to get your kitchen back to a working state, but still frustrating. Well I guess ours is technically working, but not quite working well yet. Equipment locations in our new kitchen are still kind of a mystery, so cooking is a longer process than normal.

This pasta dish was inspired by a Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta recipe on epicurious. Their picture looks much better than mine, but then they get paid for that. To make this recipe actually healthy, rather than fake healthy, you could skip the bacon and saute the onions in olive oil. The bacon route is pretty delicious though, so I'd go with reducing rather than eliminating it. Increasing the chard is an option, but we only got 12 stalks from the farmer's market since it's brand-new to us.

Here's what I did (with help from my awesome cooking partner and husband):

Pasta with Bacon and Chard

3/4 pound whole wheat linguine
8 ounces bacon
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
11 stalks Swiss Chard, stemmed and chopped (it would have been 12, but one went a little bad)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (I'd do a full tablespoon next time)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup grated part-skim mozarella (trying to make up for the bacon here)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 clove minced garlic)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the linguine in well-salted boiling water until done. While draining the pasta, reserve one cup of the now starch-infused water for use later.

While the pasta is going, cook the yummy bacon in a large skillet until it is crisp. After the bacon is done, reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat (or less if you are feeling healthy) and drain the bacon on lots of paper towels. Saute the chopped onion in the bacon fat until it's tender and delicious looking; mine took about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute or so.

Add the chard, oil, and salt and pepper to taste (see notes). After the chard has wilted nicely, 4 minutes or so, add the balsamic vinegar cook for one minute more. Take off the heat and toss in the pasta and cheese (yum!). Put in a lovely glass bowl, or a boring one like mine, and sprinkle bacon with a little cheese on top. That's why it looks so bacon-y: it's all on top. Put onto plates and enjoy!

Notes: Spinach or kale could stand in for chard.

I prefer a stainless steel skillet for this recipe so that you get the nice fond (burnt stuff stuck on the bottom, or the sauce from that) that'll help flavor your sauce, but nonstick would work as well.

It's always hard for me to add stuff to taste before it's done, so I'll give you my amounts. I added 1 teaspoon kosher salt, which worked well because of the salty bacon and pasta water. The 1 teaspoon pepper definitely wasn't enough, so we ended up sprinkling on more later. I'd go with a tablespoon next time, but that really depends on how much you like pepper. I kinda love it.

Also in full disclosure we didn't really add garlic until the end when realized it was missing something, but I think it would be better if it cooked in with everything else.

Thoughts: This was a nice change from our normal pasta fare and was pretty easy to make in just over half an hour, even in a new kitchen. Next time I'd experiment more with flavors like fresh herbs and add more swiss chard. Kyle said, "I agree."