Depending on how far north you live, in September and early October farmers’ markets may still offer a great mix of vegetables that includes the last of the produce we associate with summer -- eggplant, peppers, summer squash, tomatoes -- and a wide selection of greens that will continue well into winter. This week I’ll offer a few ideas for entrees made with some of my favorites: Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, beet greens and bok choy, among others.
One nutritional note about Swiss chard: It’s naturally high in sodium. As a result, you’ll see high sodium values in some of this week’s recipes. If sodium is an issue for you, select other greens (spinach is also high in sodium, however) for the recipe. If you can’t get to a farmers’ market, try the prewashed, stemmed Southern Greens mix available in most supermarkets.
Macaroni With Tomato Sauce, Chard and Goat Cheese
This tomatoey version of macaroni and cheese is a great way to use greens or other vegetables.
2 cups tomato sauce, made with fresh or canned tomatoes
1 pound Swiss chard (or other greens), stemmed and washed
12 ounces penne rigata
3 ounces soft, mild goat cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 ounces (about 1/3 cup) freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. Begin heating a large pot of water for the chard and pasta. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. When it’s done, transfer to a large bowl, and stir in the goat cheese.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin with olive oil.
3. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, salt generously and add the Swiss chard. Blanch for one to two minutes, then transfer to the ice water and drain. Squeeze out excess water, and chop fine. Add to the bowl with the tomato sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper. (Alternatively, you can steam the greens, but you’ll need the water for the pasta in any case.)
4. Bring the water back to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook the pasta for a minute less than the instructions on the package indicate. It should still be a little underdone, as it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain, and transfer to the bowl with the tomato sauce and chard. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, and stir together until the pasta is thoroughly coated with the sauce. Transfer to the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top, and drizzle on the olive oil.
5. Bake in the preheated oven until the casserole is bubbly and the top just beginning to color, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Yield: Serves four to six.
Advance preparation: You can make the tomato sauce up to three days ahead of serving. Keep it in the refrigerator, and reheat before proceeding with the recipe. The blanched chard will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator. The assembled macaroni will keep for several hours outside the refrigerator, and can be covered and refrigerated for up to two days before baking (the pasta will become quite soft)