Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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.

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 Parmigiano....it 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!


  1. With such high praise I have got to try this one. Bookmarked! Let's just hope they still have the chard at the farmers market:)

  2. I SO almost made this the other day! It was going to be my first recipe from this cookbook. I'm glad you loved it because now it is definitely moved up on my list of things to make!

  3. Oooooh. That looks great. I have never had swiss chard. In fact, I had to google it. :-0
    But I would like to try it! I bet my kids would love this one.

  4. Sounds amazing ... I guess it would be good with kale/beetroot greens/spring cabbage too.

    Thanks :-}}

  5. I've just read how healthy swiss chard is and now here's a recipe for it. This looks delicious!

  6. I loved everything from this book too - by far his best for the home cook.
    Looks wonderful!

  7. Swiss chard is so full of nutrients that this makes the perfect pasta: tasty AND healthy. Hope you and your family are doing well!

  8. I'm a swiss chard fan, I have had the same swiss chard plant in the garden for 3 years now. It's huge. Lovely dish!

  9. Any ragu of Mario's is one I will definitely make! His ground pork ragu is my family's favorite tomato sauce dish ever! So glad to see this recipe! I have looked at this book several times but have not yet bought it! Lucky me - I keep finding recipes here and there on the internet! Chard is off the radar here in Texas until cool weather hits again, but I am defintely bookmarking this for future reference! (Also for encouragement that cool weather is soon on the way!) Thanx for the Mario post -- luv him!

  10. I love the Molto Gusto book. There are so many great recipes in it. This one looks delicious. Will add it to my ever growing list of things to try. Thanks

  11. I am a pasta lover! Thanks for sharing the recipe. It looks fantastic and definitely something I would adore. I am saving this recipe to make in the future. YUMMM

  12. Oh my tummy is growling at the sight of that! It sounds delicious!

  13. Looks like a great recipe.
    I also had to google Swiss chard and as fate would have it it's still in season around here.
    I will keep a look out at the green market.

  14. Kim,
    Your post makes me what to go heat up my kitchen right now, but I think I'll save this for the cool weather.

  15. Wow, with such a good review on this dish, I really want to try it. I wonder if I could find swiss chard though.
    Sharing in the Mario Batali love daaaahling.
    *kisses* HH

  16. must.eat.ragu! i LOVE this, don't you love a meal that just knocks your socks off! i am going to start looking for chard!

  17. I have been considering a new cookbook, not that I need it and one of the considerationsis Batali. I have to try some of his recipes from online, first.

    This one certainly looks like a winner. I hope Joanne makes it soon so we can see how two great cooks make it and what differences come up.

  18. Bookmarked! My hubby and I will be going to Vegas in November and Mario has a few restaurants there. Trying to decide which one to go to. I'm so excited to make one of his recipes before going. Beautiful pics too. Thanks Kim! P.S. Oh and I can't wait for the pizza roundup. Hurry!! :o)

  19. I was actually starting to drool a little as I read this post. I can see why it's one of your favorite recipes this year. I'll have to check out this book...we love us some Italian food! I've never cooked with Swiss Chard. I'm going to have to give it a try. YUM!

  20. This sounds fabulous! I am loving every type of green I can get my hands on right now. Delish!

  21. This looks delicious and like a perfect way to get your greens in a delectable way. I don't eat near enough Swiss Chard since I usually get kale in my CSA box so this might just get me to go buy some. ;-)

  22. This looks insanely delicious Kim! And like something my entire family will love. It would make a great Sunday dinner.

  23. Ooo pasta dishes are right up my alley! I will make this for my mom and I next time she comes to my house to visit! :-)

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