Creamy Swiss Chard Pasta With Leeks, Tarragon and Lemon Zest
This creamy vegetarian pasta is hearty enough for chilly temperatures while still nodding toward spring with the addition of bright-green chard, leeks and fresh herbs. For texture, it’s topped with toasted panko, a garnish that can go many ways: Instead of using nutritional yeast, which adds tangy flavor here, you can melt a finely chopped anchovy with the butter and toss it with the panko. You could also add some ground coriander, Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence. Toasted panko, plain bread crumbs or even crushed croutons are a solid back-pocket trick to add crunch to any pasta, especially the creamiest kind. Don’t skip the tarragon and lemon zest garnish, which add a fresh note to an otherwise-rich dish.
- Serves: 4 persons
- ¾pound green Swiss chard (1 large bunch), washed and trimmed
- 2large leeks (10 to 12 ounces each)
- 5tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½cup panko bread crumbs
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 3tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 3garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1cup heavy cream
- 16ounces linguine or fettuccine
- ¾cup finely grated Parmesan
- Fresh tarragon leaves, for garnish
- 1lemon, for garnish
Step 1Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the chard: Tear the leaves off the stems, separating the leaves and stems. Thinly slice the stems, then coarsely tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Set both aside in separate bowls.
Step 2Prepare the leeks: Trim off the bottom and the dark green portion at the top, halve the remaining white and pale green portion lengthwise, then thinly slice them crosswise. Wash and drain the sliced leeks. Set aside.
Step 3Prepare the bread crumbs: In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium. Add the panko, season lightly with salt and generously with pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in nutritional yeast, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Step 4Wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and melt over medium-high. Add the leeks, chard stems, garlic and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks start to wilt and soften, about 5 minutes. Add the torn chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until just wilted, 2 minutes.
Step 5Add the stock and heavy cream, and boil over high until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Step 6Once the mixture is simmering, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta.
Step 7Transfer chard mixture to the empty pasta pot. Stir in the cooked pasta, then sprinkle with the Parmesan, stirring vigorously to melt it into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 8Divide among shallow bowls or plates. Sprinkle generously with the prepared bread crumbs, top with tarragon and grate fresh lemon zest on top. Serve immediately.