Pasta with Chard and Lemony Ricotta

Chard is already sprouting up in my garden, from where I planted it several years ago - I just ignore it and it continually reseeds itself!  I love both the stems and the leaves chopped up together for a great texture variety.

This recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray's 365: No Repeats. She is so adorable and I love the 30-minute meal concept, although I can never quite whip it out that fast myself.  But I figure if I start there, at least it's a safe bet to be faster than some other recipes I might want to try.  I have really enjoyed some of her recipes, although I've been disappointed with others, and I think she often relies a bit too heavily on bacon and chicken stock for flavor!

1 pound rotini or other corkscrew-shaped pasta
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or hot paprika (my favorite spice! you can also combine cayenne and regular paprika to make your own - it has such a wonderful nutty flavor)
salt and pepper
1 bunch of rainbow or red chard, sliced in thin ribbons
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or other flavorful hard cheese
15-oz tub of ricotta cheese
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta. Meanwhile, fry bacon in a skillet until crisp. Drain, wipe out the pan, and add olive oil.  Cook garlic, onion, hot paprika, salt and pepper, for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are lightly caramelized. Add the chard, toss to coat with oil, and cook until wilted. Add stock and a couple of ladles of hot starchy water from the pasta pot. Boil for 6-7 minutes, then turn off heat and add lemon juice and bacon. Drain the pasta well and toss with the greens and grated parmesan. Combine the ricotta with the lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, and whip with a fork until fluffy. Put a dollop on the bottom of each bowl and serve the pasta over it. Stir it up in your bowl with the pasta, and yum!!  I think next time I will try it without the bacon, maybe balsamic vinegar instead, and try adding some thyme.

I bet can think of a lot of things to do with that lemony ricotta in the future - it is fantastically fragrant and delicious!


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