Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Andrea Chesman: Dinner in Minutes

Life is busy. Then it gets busier. Tomatoes need canning, onions and carrots need harvesting, kids need lots of attention as they head back to school, summer has taken a toll on the cleanliness of the house, warmer clothes need digging out. Then there is your usual busy life. It adds up.

How perfect, then, to have a healthy, veggie-rich dinner that everyone will enjoy. This is one of my favorite dishes to make when time is short. In the spring substitute arugula or spinach for the chard; in the winter substitute kale or cabbage, and adjust times accordingly. As long as the garden keeps producing chard, we are happy to eat it.

A drizzle of a reduction of balsamic vinegar — balsamic vinegar and a little sugar cooked down until syrupy — elevates the dish to make it a dinner for special occasions.

Chard and Ravioli

Serves 4

A magic formula: Take two big bunches of chard from the garden. Combine with pantry and freezer staples. The result — so much greater than the sum of its parts — is an incredibly delicious, healthful one-dish vegetarian meal. It doesn’t get much better or much easier than this. This is a family favorite. Chard is one vegetable that everyone agrees goes well with pasta.


2 pounds (12–16 stems with leaves) red, green, or rainbow chard, leaves cut into 1-inch ribbons and stems diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 package (30 ounces) frozen cheese-filled ravioli
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard stems, and boil for 2 minutes. Add the leaves, and continue to boil until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon, and drain in a colander. 
  2. Bring the water back to a boil. 
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, shallot, and red pepper, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chard, and continue to sauté until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm. 
  4. Add the ravioli to the boiling water, and simmer (do not boil) until the ravioli are all cooked through and rise to the surface of the water, about 5 minutes. Drain well. 
  5. In a large serving bowl or platter, combine the ravioli and chard and toss together. Sprinkle with half the Parmesan, and toss again. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top, and serve.
Recipe from Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman © 2005, 2007.
All rights reserved.

The digital editions of Andrea’s The Pickled Pantry and Recipes from the Root Cellar are on sale for $2.99 or less for the entire month of September. Go to Workman’s Blue Plate Special page for these deals and to download your free digital edition of Serving Up the Harvest.

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