July 12, 2011

Orecchiette with Chard, Sweet Sausage and Cannellini Beans

This dish was inspired by one of my favorite of Giada's pasta recipes: Orecchiette with Sausage, Beans and Mascarpone. It is in my normal pasta rotation in the cooler months, because it is comforting and delicious. I had it in mind when I was trying to come up with something to do with the gorgeous bunch of rainbow chard from my CSA bag. (I am not using the word "gorgeous" lightly. A couple of the leaves had stems that were bright magenta on one side, then you turn it over and the underside was bright orange! Nice work, nature.)

Orecchiette with Chard, Sweet Sausage and Cannellini Beans
Inspired by Giada
Serves 4


8 oz dried orecchiette
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 links sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I think this was just over 1/2 pound and you could certainly use pork, turkey or chicken sausage)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves torn or chopped into large pieces
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
large handful flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped (my CSA parsley is the best parsley I have ever tasted - so lemony and wonderful)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; generously salt it. Cook the pasta according to package directions. (Orecchiette take longer to cook than other shapes of pasta and I found that if I dumped the pasta into the pot at the same time that I started the sauce, it was all finished at the same time.) Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and stir so the onion is covered in the oil. Add the garlic, stirring until fragrant (less than a minute). Add the sausage, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and the sausage is fully cooked.

3. Add the stock and the chard to the pan. Cover and cook until the chard has wilted, a couple minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and add the pasta. Stir, then add the cheese. Taste for seasoning (I didn't need to add any salt or pepper). Portion into bowls and top with more cheese and the parsley. (I saved some of the pasta water to add to the Tupperware containers with the leftovers. If you don't have any leftovers, you probably won't need the pasta water.)

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