Sometimes, it’s best to just throw a bunch of pasta and veggies in a baking dish and call it a night. This is one of those dishes that allows you to do just that, but with a slightly more organized approach. This pasta bake involves swiss chard, which is one of the most nutrient-rich greens that you can eat (just like kale) and packs it into a light pasta mixture, only assisted by some cheeses and panko crumbs. Despite the original recipe calling for chicken, this dish didn’t seem to be missing anything and tasted like it was filled with nutrients from the powerfully green swiss chard (besides, you know, the cheese factor). The pasta bake also worked really well for leftovers, to be heated up for lunch or dinner the next day/couple of days. As I described it to myself in my blog notes: It’s cheesy, baked happiness.
I recommend that if you’re craving pasta and cheese, but don’t want the heavy post-Italian food feeling you get afterwards, that you give this a go. It’s filling, yet still light enough that you don’t feel guilty afterwards. Give it a shot!
Cooking Notes: The original recipe calls for chicken, which we decided to omit because of other chicken dishes we were more excited about cooking this week. I personally don’t think this dish was lacking in any way from a lack of chicken! Also, it calls for 3 bunches of Swiss chard, which we managed with just one. And lastly, it called for penne, but we used fusili!
Swiss Chard Pasta Bake (adapted from The Kitchn; serves 6)
1/2 pound whole wheat fusili
1 bunch Swiss chard
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
A splash of dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko crumbs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente, or according to package directions. Strain and set aside. Rinse the swiss chard well and pull the leaves off of the stalks, discarding the stems. Tear leaves into large chunks and set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Cook onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Add the swiss chard to the pot and season generously with S&P. Stir a few times to wilt the greens, then cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the noodles, ricotta, and a generous splash of white wine to the greens and season with S&P. Transfer to a medium-sized baking dish. Combine Parmesan, panko, and remaining tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle the Parmesan mixture over the top of the casserole and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the top is golden.