One Of The Best Meals This Year: Mario Batali's Pennette With Swiss Chard Ragu

Okay, stop the presses! I'm interrupting my regular blogging schedule to bring you one of the best meals I've made so far this year, Mario Batali's Pennette Pasta with Swiss Chard Ragu. While in the process of testing recipes from Mario's new book, Molto Gusto, I ran across this gem of a recipe. My original plan was to add this recipe to a recipe roundup for Molto Gusto, but as soon as I tasted this I knew it had to have it's own post and let me tell you....this recipe is exquisite! If you are a pasta lover and you happen to like Swiss chard then I promise you that you will be in heaven with this recipe!

Mario's new book is hands down one of my favorite cookbooks that I've bought this year and I very highly recommend it. In Molto Gusto, Mario shares many approachable recipes with chapters on Vegetable Antipasti; Seafood & Meat Antipasti; Bruschetta & Cheese; Insalata; Pasta; Pizza; and Gelato & Sorbetto. I believe there is a picture of each and every recipe and the photography is quite stunning. I have so many recipes bookmarked, but this recipe for Penne with Swiss Chard Ragu was probably the first recipe that stood out to me. I have to share the recipe with you!

Pennette with Swiss Chard Ragu
Adapted from Mario Batali's Molto Gusto
Serves 6
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 pound Swiss chard, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Maldon or other flaky sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
Coarsely ground black pepper
Kosher salt
1 pound pennette
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs, fried in olive oil until golden brown

Combine the oil, onion, garlic, and chard in a large pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion and chard are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Season well with Maldon salt, add 1/4 cup water, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is very tender, about 20 minutes. Add the butter, stirring until it melts, then season with pepper and remove from the heat. (The ragu can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate; reheat in a large pot over medium-low heat before adding the pasta.)

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 3 tablespoons kosher salt. Drop in the pasta and cook until just al dente.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the chard ragu and stir and toss over medium heat until the pasta is well coated (add a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce). Stir in the cheese.

Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and scatter the bread crumbs over the top. Serve with additional grated Parmigiano on the side.

Notes/Results: This recipe is simply delectable! The Swiss chard is so tender but yet adds such flavor and texture to this pasta dish. Everything marries together so well in this recipe: the chard, the garlic, all that wonderful truly is a swoon-worthy recipe. Make it for yourself, make it for someone special, make it for a dinner party. I guarantee you'll be impressed! (Note: I forgot to add the fried breadcrumbs to mine, but loved it anyway).

Coming up soon I'll be sharing a roundup of pizzas using Mario's recipe for pizza dough!