Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Swiss Chard and Pancetta

Suddenly it is March! 🙏 Winter is almost behind us. The weather is warming up; the sun is shining; the birds are singing (and driving my cat, Luna, bonkers as she races up and down the steps, from window to window as the birds fly higher.) Soon we will be cooking lighter – gone will be the stews and braises and soups. Don’t get me wrong – I adore all the winter food but it starts to feel heavy and same-same by this time every year. Spring will be here one day early this year (thanks to it being a leap year) – only a few weeks to go! What are you cooking during this shoulder season? Still in the depths of winter or headed towards lighter spring? Let us know in the comments!

A dear friend (grazie Sherry! ❤️) popped by with the most beautiful head of Swiss chard last week – it was so beautiful that I was almost tempted to put it in a vase filled with water rather than cook it. But my appetite got the best of me and I decided we needed a pasta night featuring this gorgeous head of chard.

With one eye toward winter and the other laser-focused on spring, I paired the earthy chard with sweet getting-closer-to-summer roasted tomatoes. (ok, I know summer is still a long way off but we all need a dream). The two stars of the recipe complement each other beautifully. The usually bland winter tomatoes intensify in flavor when roasted as they emerge from the oven juicy and lightly caramelized in spots. It added the perfect note to the earthy, slightly bitter chard.

I fried diced pancetta to a crispy brown as a way to add a crunchy, smokey taste to the pasta (and I had a piece of extra pancetta in the fridge.) You can totally omit the pancetta to make this vegetarian. Just cook the onion and chard stems in a bit of extra olive oil. For crunch, some toasted pine nuts, almonds, or other nuts would work beautifully. Or toast a 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs in a bit of olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and parsley. Sprinkle on top. If you do use the pancetta, remember that it can be salty – so season accordingly.

Most of all, set a place by the window, pour a glass of vino, and enjoy as we await the approaching spring!

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Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Swiss Chard, and Pancetta | OurItalianTable.com

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Swiss Chard and Pancetta


Description

An easy weeknight pasta filled with earthy Swiss chard and married with summery sweet roasted tomatoes.  A match made in heaven!


Ingredients

Scale

For the roasted tomatoes:

  • About 4 cups cherry tomatoes (2 pints
  • Extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Kosher salt

For the pasta:

  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • Black pepper

To serve: Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese


Instructions

1. Roast the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 425° F. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with a large pinch of salt. Roast, shaking the pan occasionally until the tomatoes are brown in spots and beginning to collapse, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Set aside. 

2. While the tomatoes are roasting, drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet or cast-iron pan. (Bonus points if the pan is large enough to accommodate the pasta once cooked.) Add in the pancetta and cook over medium heat until brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and place on a paper-towel lined plate. Set aside.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat.  Salt it once it boils. Add in the pasta. Stir and cook for a minute or two under the package cooking directions. (The pasta will finish cooking with the sauce.) 

4. Meanwhile, dice the chard stems. Add the onion and chard stems to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the wine almost completely evaporates.

5. Add in the roasted tomatoes and any accumulated juices. Stir to combine. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.

6. Cut the chard leaves into wide ribbons crosswise and add to the skillet. Cook until the chard leaves just begin to wilt, about 3 minutes. 

7. When the pasta is just shy of ‘al dente’, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain. Add the pasta to the skillet, along with the reserved pasta water. Stir to combine. (If your saucepan is not large enough to accommodate the pasta, drain the pasta. Don’t forget to reserve the water. Add the pasta, sauce, and pasta water to the pasta pot.) 

8. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes until the pasta is ‘al dente’ and the sauce coats each strand.  

9. Transfer the pasta to a warmed serving platter (or serve right from the skillet.) Top with the crispy pancetta and serve with plenty of grated Parmigiano or Pecorino on the side.

Vegetarian option: Omit the pancetta. Sauté the onion and chard stems in a little extra olive oil. 

Join the Conversation

  1. What a lovely combination of flavors! As luck would have it, we’ve got a surfeit of cherry tomatoes that are about to go off. This looks like an excellent way to use them up!

    1. Michele Author says:

      Let us know if you do make it…roasted tomatoes make me so happy 🙂

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