Colorful chard mixes well with sausage, pasta

Posted Nov. 06, 2009, at 7:24 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:49 a.m.

Here is a little note I made to myself: “Greens, Italian sausage, artichoke hearts and penne.” Don’t ask me where I found that combination, but there it was on a page titled “chard and spinach ideas.” There is still quite a bit of chard in our garden but I know that a really hard freeze isn’t too far off. It really is time to get the last of it cut and brought in, some for eating soon and some for the freezer.

We grow the chard named Bright Lights that has brilliant multicolored stalks in pink, red, yellow and orange, and deep dark green leaves. I have seen it in farmers markets and farm stands. I had the good fortune this summer to discover that the stalks cut free from the leaves made an excellent, crisp, dipping vegetable on a platter with carrots, cucumbers and broccoli — really brightening up the selection. I used the leaves shredded into salads or added to stir fries or even sauteed with eggs on top for breakfast.

For this combination of greens with Italian sausage, artichoke hearts and penne, I used the whole leaf. I trimmed the leaves away from the stalk by sliding a sharp knife up through the leaf on either side of the stalk. Then I chopped the stalk. I prepared the leaves the way I usually do: rolling them up in a bundle and shredding by cutting through them with a knife or scissors. The long ribbonlike shreds look pretty.

We grow artichokes, too, with varying success from year to year, but never enough to heave a bunch into a dish like this. I usually have a jar or can of them on hand to make a quick hors d’oeuvre by mixing them with mayonnaise and Parmesan and baking it.

I used homemade Italian sausage. You can use sweet or spicy sausage, or even Italian chicken sausage if you are looking for a lower-fat version. Vary the amount of meat according to how many you serve and how hungry they are.

I bet you can extend this idea to using kale, spinach or collards. Vary the kind of pasta you use: rotini, bow ties or orrichette. The recipe below is for two to three servings.

Looking for … an old Brownie Schrumpf recipe. Houlton native Martha Dow, now residing in Midlothian, Md., where she keeps track of us online, I bet, wrote recently to ask for a recipe 35 years old. “I had it for my birthday cake growing up. My mother had cut it out of the Bangor Daily News from Brownie Schrumpf’s column. The recipe was called: Eggless, Butterless, Milkless Cake. A friend has a young son with severe egg allergies and can’t have dairy either and I thought of this recipe. Can you help me find it? A Web search turned up over 60 results but I really want the recipe I had as a child.” I looked in the cookbook “Memories from Brownie’s Kitchen” but it is not there. I hope one of you inveterate recipe clippers might have this in the pile of recipes you have saved over the years.

Chard, Sausage, Artichoke Hearts

and Pasta

2-3 servings penne or other pasta

Olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3-4 Italian sausages, sliced

One bunch chard, trimmed and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

8-10 sections canned artichoke hearts, chopped

Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil and put pasta in to cook. Put a very light coating of olive oil into a large skillet and saute onion until barely tender, about five minutes. Add sausages and fry them until they are browned. If necessary, drain some of the fat from the pan, then add the chopped chard stalks and garlic and cook briefly, then add the artichokes. Add the shredded chard leaves and cook until leaves are wilted. Drain pasta and toss into the pan with the other ingredients and toss to mix. Add liberal amounts of Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

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