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Farm Fresh: Chard, ginger make savory pasta blend

Thursday, October 04, 2001

By Betsy Kline, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Swiss chard was one of the first seed crops we put in our garden in late spring, and these bouquets of crunchy red- and orange-stalked beauties are still going strong.

We usually like our chard simply sauteed as a side dish with garlic and oil, but this recipe, pairing it with yummy soba (Japanese buckwheat) noodles, ginger and toasted pine nuts -- with a mere sprinkling of hot pepper flakes -- makes a palate-smacking meal.

You'll need lots of chard -- go by weight -- because it wilts much the same as other greens and the volume shrinks quickly. Watch your pan temperature -- it's easy to scorch if you turn your back for too long.

Serve this with some bread for mopping all the pot liquor from the chard.

Soba Noodles With Swiss Chard, Ginger And Pine Nuts

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
3/4 pound Swiss chard, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips, washed and drained
2 tablespoons soy sauce
8 ounces soba noodles, see note
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, optional

Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and ginger and stir over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the chard and soy sauce and stir to mix. Cover the pan and continue cooking until the chard is wilted and tender, about 20 minutes. (Depending on the tenderness of the leaves, this may take a shorter time; watch your pot heat carefully.)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Stir the reserved liquid into the chard and divide the noodles among 4 bowls.

Spoon the chard and pot liquor over the noodles. Sprinkle with pine nuts, black pepper to taste and a good pinch of crushed red pepper over the noodles (to taste). Serve right away, accompanied with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Soba noodles are available in Asian markets and the international section of many supermarkets. We found ours at Tokyo food store in Shadyside. Pasta shells may be substituted.

"Smith & Hawken Gardeners' Community Cookbook"

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