Healthful cooking

Chard and sausage redeem whole-wheat pasta


Main dish

Whole-wheat Penne With Spring Greens and Sausage

If you have trouble finding Swiss chard, you can substitute spinach.

8 ounces whole-wheat penne

1 pound Swiss chard

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 ounces chicken sausages, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch-thick crosswise

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt

15-ounce can chopped tomatoes, preferably fire roasted

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1 1/2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook pasta a few minutes less than the recommended time on the box. Meanwhile, cut off and slice Swiss chard stems. Chop the leaves coarsely.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Cook sausage, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove to a bowl.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onion. Cook until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the chard stems to the skillet, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add half the chard leaves. Stir and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are slightly wilted. Add the remaining greens, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until completely wilted. Add the tomatoes, a hefty pinch of salt and the red pepper flakes.

When the pasta is almost done, drain it, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Add the pasta and 3/4 cup cooking liquid to the skillet and simmer 3 to 4 minutes, adding more cooking liquid if necessary, until the pasta is al dente and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the sausages and season with salt. Divide among 4 shallow bowls and top each portion with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 380 calories, 110 calories from fat (29 percent of total calories), 12 g fat (3 g saturated, 0 trans fats), 20 mg cholesterol, 55 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 19 g protein, 950 mg sodium.

Associated Press

No matter how unimpeachable whole-wheat pasta is in terms of nutrition, I’ve always found it off-putting. Sure, it has more fiber and whole-grain nutrition. But it always struck me as rather dull.

Happily, several brands have developed respectable lines of 100 percent whole-wheat pasta. If you haven’t lately, you might want to taste a few of them to decide which is your favorite. Once you’ve settled on a winner, cook it the way I suggest in this recipe, which is to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. This way the pasta absorbs the flavor of the sauce and becomes that much tastier.

And let’s not forget our Swiss chard. A spring vegetable, this tangy Mediterranean member of the beet family is edible from tip to toe. Just slice the stems and put them in the pan before the greens, because they take a little longer to soften.

To finish, I pepped up the greens with a little chicken sausage for flavor.

This is pretty much a one-dish meal. Serve it with a nice little tossed salad on the side and a glass of vino, and savor your contentment.

Sara Moulton hosts public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.”

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