Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Swiss Chard Ricotta Pasta

This winter has been quite mild, pleasantly so, in fact; although this means substantial lack of attention paid to my large down coat and my rabbit fur jacket, I refuse to allow it to impede my embrace and indulgence in delicious comfort foods. After all, I have no vacations planned, for the foreseeable future, and bathing suits are far from my mind. Butter bounty, begin.

This is more of a winter dish, in that it is heavy and hearty, but, if willing to crank up the air conditioning and create a comfortable stove-top cooking environment, and, subsequently, willing to embrace the high electric bill that is likely to ensue, then this can easily be made and devoured in the summer as well. I am not, as I will continually profess, a cook; lately, this fact has become even more apparent as, with travel and work, I have prepared little to nothing. In order to ameliorate this, I am typing out this favorite recipe, praying and demanding to find in it some inspiration for the rest of the season.

Though I typically make this pasta with swiss chard and bell peppers of some color varietal, with the occasional tomato, other vegetables of the chef's discerning choice could easily be substituted; as spring and seasonal farmer's markets are soon to be upon us, some heirloom tomatoes would be a welcome alternative. If swiss chard is found to be unpleasant, perhaps another equally green and leafy vegetable could be substituted.

head of swiss chard
one red bell pepper
one yellow or orange bell pepper
one large onion, either yellow or sweet, whatever the preference
hot Italian sausage
about 2 cups ricotta cheese, preferably full fat
copiously healthy amounts of butter, for sautéing vegetables
garlic, hot pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for the daring, for the adventurers that care not for the waist

I always begin with a healthy amount of butter, to sauté the peppers and onion; salt and coarse pepper, as well as garlic, preferably fresh but jarred works too, are also incorporated. I also add a dash or two or three or five of crushed red pepper flakes for some added zip. Something that is exceedingly difficult on my tempestuous gas stove: take care to not brown or caramelize the onion or the peppers. It is not, obviously, a travesty if this occurs, but I have found that I prefer firmer vegetables without the sweet, crunchy texture.

The swiss chard leaves, after they are coarsely chopped, will also be sautéed in heavy amounts of butter. At first, this task will appear daunting, however, the leaves do, indeed, quickly cook down. Again, I prefer the crisper taste; I try to not overcook and be left with a soppy, dark green slime mold. For those who enjoy spice, more red pepper flakes can be added.

Italian sausage adds a pleasant, spicy kick. To aid in chopping, I keep my sausages frozen and pull them out just before I am prepared to cook them. I need to use a large butcher knife, but the casing no longer becomes an impeding issue.

Throughout this process, the pot of water should be heating and boiling away to cook the pasta; again, I am an awful and frequently disorganized cook, so, sometimes, I neglect to boil the water while I am preparing other parts of a meal, and then find myself behind when I have to wait, staring, watching, for the pot. This time, I used perciatelli noodles, which I enjoy, though I think penne may be the best option.

In the pasta pot, add the cooked vegetables and the ricotta cheese; mix vigorously. Allowing the ricotta to sit out on the counter for a few moments before this step can help soften the cheese, so that it is easier to incorporate.

If all the creamy ricotta glory is not sufficient, complete the dish with some shredded parmesan.

My longtime and wonderfully dear friend, Diana, is looking for a recipe to make for a potluck. This pasta dish is easy, as evidenced by my capability to prepare it, and makes a heaping amount, so, perfect for sharing.


  1. Thank you so much!
    Looks tasty :)

    Andrea in Fashion

  2. looks delicious! lovely blog i am your new follower via google please follow back so we can keep in touch!

  3. i'm gonna try it, looks delicious ;D

  4. Thanks for the recipe - this looks great!

  5. Looks delicious!

    Kisses from Spain!