December 14th, 2010

Creamy Red Chard Linguine

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Serves 4 || Total Time: 30 minutes

File under simple but impressive! This pasta is all about color and texture – cashews makes it rich and creamy, while swiss chard is delightfully chewy and toasted pine nuts provide crunchy explosions of flavor. When cooking with chard, I like to use the whole animal. The beautiful red stems and some red wine make this pasta a fun pink hue. I’ve also used a ton of garlic two ways, sliced and minced, so be prepared for serious garlic love!

Notes: Cashew creme works best if the cashews soak in water for at least an hour, and up to overnight, so try to plan ahead! If not, it will still be good, just not as smooth and creamy. For the chard, slice off the very woodsy bottoms of the stems, but use the rest of the stems once you’ve stripped off the leaves.

8 oz linguine (I use whole wheat)

1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least an hour (see note)

1 1/4 cups vegetable broth

1/4 cup to 1/2 pinenuts

Olive oil (from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons, however much you want to use)

1 red onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dry red wine (Merlot works great)

Additional 1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 lb red swiss chard, leaves torn into bite sized pieces, stems thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Boil water for the pasta and cook according to pasta directions.

Drain the soaked cashews and then puree them with 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth until completely smooth. It might take up to 5 minutes to get it really smooth.

Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Toast pine nuts until browned (about 3 minutes). Remove from pan, place in a small bowl (or whatever) and set aside.

In the same pan, saute onions in oil and a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes. Add sliced garlic and saute for two more minutes. Add minced garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt and saute for a minute more. Add swiss chard stems (reserve leaves) and saute another two minutes.

Pour in the wine and vegetable broth and turn the heat up to bring to a boil. Let reduce for about 5 minutes. Lower heat and add swiss chard leaves until they are completely wilted.

Add the cashew cream and lemon juice and stir until heated through. Taste for salt and pepper.

By this time the pasta should be cooked and drained. Add it to the pan, turn off heat, and toss to coat.  Serve as soon as you can and top with pinenuts.

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