Pasta with chard, hazelnuts and garlic: Ireland and Italy on a plate

For kids, garlic butter is like an invisibility cloak for dark leafy greens

Pasta with chard, hazelnuts and garlic

Pasta with chard, hazelnuts and garlic

 

Lilly Higgins will be cooking the dish from this column on Monday, November 16th at 6pm on Instagram. Join her @lilly_higgins_

Seasonal cooking is always easier when you have access to great produce. Here in Ireland, it’s time for root vegetables, dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables to shine.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

I always refer to stopfoodwaste.ie for its seasonal produce calendar. It’s handy when meal planning and recipe writing. Chard is now in its second season, from October to April, growing from June to August also. I love rainbow chard, also known as Bright Lights. Like neon glow sticks in rainbow hues, it is a real pop of colour at an otherwise dark time of year.

The leaves have a bit more bite than spinach but spinach would make a good alternative in this week’s recipe. I’ve also made this pasta dish plenty of times with kale and it has worked out a treat. This is one of those recipes that you will come back to time and time again. There are no strict rules about how much garlic, or butter, you’d like to add. Follow your own personal preference.

My children love this dish because it is bathed in garlic-scented butter. I find garlic butter to be some sort of invisibility cloak for dark leafy greens. The sweet crunchy hazelnuts add texture and salty Parmesan disappears into the mix. For a twist, I sometimes add a few finely chopped anchovies or top mine with chilli flakes.

Its beauty is in its simplicity. This nicely balanced pasta dish can be cooked in about 10 minutes. I always use fresh pasta when I can because it brings a nice softness to this dish, but of course dried pasta will be fine. This is a real store cupboard dinner, with leafy greens such as chard or kale lasting in the fridge for more than a week. I often rustle this up on busy evenings when dinner seems too much hassle. Finishing the greens with some fresh lemon juice is something I always do, it perks the dish right up.

If you’d like to try this dish yourself, please join me next Monday evening at 6pm for our third live Cook-Along on Instagram for Irish Times Food Month. If you have any questions, or something to add about how you cook with chard, they are more than welcome. Cooking live has a nice community feel and is one occasion where too many cooks do not spoil the broth but rather enhance it. 

PASTA WITH CHARD, HAZELNUTS AND GARLIC

Serves four

Ingredients
500g fresh pasta (I used fusilli) 
3 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large bunches chard, finely chopped
150g hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
100g grated Parmesan 
1 lemon
Black pepper
Sea salt 

Method
1
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain, but keep a little of the cooking water in the pan.

2 While the pasta cooks, heat the butter in a frying pan and once it starts to foam add the crushed garlic then remove from the heat. Stir gently to ensure the garlic is heated through and no raw flavour remains. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, pour the garlic-infused butter over it and stir well. 

3 Return the pan to a medium high heat. Add the finely chopped chard, leaves and stems. Add a splash of water and stir gently. Once the chard is bright and the leaves wilted, add the juice of half a lemon and season well with salt and pepper. Add the seasoned chard to the pasta and stir it all well. Add half the hazelnuts and combine gently.

4 Divide the pasta into four bowls. Scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts over and top with Parmesan.

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