The week of bribing people with food and drink continues… my dad is still working around the house (and he’s staying an extra week now – oh the projects I’m going to dream up right after I finish this post). The other night, Jack’s sister came by to help organize the pantry and closets… I’m on this kick where I want things in order (I’m not always this way), and I’m not above delegation to get things done.
So my part was to, of course, make dinner for everyone. My dad and Jack are easy, they are human vacuums for whatever I put in front of them. Beyond them, I never know what to make for meat eaters. I figured a cheesy pasta dish was foolproof. I have an overabundance of chard growing in my garden, so I was able to sneak some leafy greens in. And I don’t think anyone noticed that I used brown rice pasta.
I made this in two dishes – the one pictured is smaller and had less cheese (so I could partake), and the other dish was larger and had parmesan bubbling on top.
But I’m curious to know – if you’re vegetarian or cook mostly vegetarian, what do you like to make for your meat eating guests?
Or if you’re a meat eater, what are your favorite vegetarian dishes?
adapted from The New York Times Recipes for Health
- 1 pound Swiss chard (about 6 large leaves), stems removed
- 12 oz penne pasta (I used brown rice pasta, but you could use any kind)
- ¾ cup asiago cheese cut into small cubes (or any cheese you like)
- 2 cups tomato sauce, any kind you like or see recipe below
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- Shredded parmesan to go on top (optional)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce (plain)
- ¼ cup white or red wine
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Fill another bowl with ice and a bit of water. Drop chard leaves in boiling water for about 1 minute, remove and drop in ice water to stop the cooking process so your chard keeps its vibrant green color.
- Re-using the same pot, cook pasta according to package directions, cutting the time a minute or two short since the pasta will continue cooking while it bakes.
- Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce: Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil. Add a few pinches of salt. Add the garlic. When onions are translucent, add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, and sugar. Reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 or 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more salt & pepper to taste (only if needed). Add the red pepper flakes, if using.
- Remove the chard from ice water, squeeze out excess water, and chop.
- In a large bowl, mix the cooked pasta, chard, cheese cubes, and tomato sauce.
- Pour the mixture in a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese on top (if you like), and/or a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Broil for the last 1-2 minutes if you would like the cheese topping more brown and bubbling. (Note, if you’re not putting cheese on top, watch it more closely because it will dry out faster). Even without cheese on top, I prefer a bit of a crunchy crust. If you don’t, cook it less.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil.