I have been making this recipe for years excluding the walnut oil (because the raw one has very little flavor and the roasted one isn't healthy). My husband leaves off the walnuts because he's not crazy about them, I add extra because I love them. We both like this recipe so much that at the height of the swiss chard season I make large batches of the vegetable base and freeze it.
This year, I decided to add a handful of garlic scapes, and it took the recipe to a whole new level! I'm going to try freezing them, too.
I have made this with every pasta shape imaginable and penne works best.
Pasta with Swiss Chard, Garlic Scapes and Leeks
in Cream Sauce with Walnuts & Tarragon
3 T. ghee, divided
10 garlic scapes sliced into 1" pieces
1 c. minced leek, white and light green part only (I use onions when I'm out of leeks)
1 pound swiss chard, preferably red, stems cut from leaves and both chopped into thin slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t. pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 c. broth (I use veal broth, vegetarians can use water)
2/3 - 1 c. heavy cream
2 T. minced fresh tarragon or parsley or a combination of both
1/2 pound penne (or 1pound cooked chicken, or 1/2 pound of each*)
3 T. toasted walnut halves, broken into small pieces (I use soaked and dehydrated)
Parmesan cheese (optional)
In a skillet set over medium heat, melt 1 T. ghee and saute garlic scapes until softened and slightly charred. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Reduce heat to moderately low and melt remaining 2 T. ghee, add leek, chard stems, and salt and pepper to taste. Cut a round piece of waxed paper to fit the size of your skillet and place it over the vegetables. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the cover and waxed paper. Now add the chard leaves, garlic, red pepper flakes, and broth and simmer the mixture uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more. * If you're using the chicken, add it here.
Increase the heat to high and reduce liquid until almost evaporated. Add the reserved garlic scapes.
At this point, you can freeze this mixture to use later. Defrost and reheat gently in a saute pan then proceed with the rest of the recipe. You could freeze it after adding the cream but it will take up more room in your freezer and, since cream is available year round, I don't see the point.
Add the herbs and the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm while you cook the pasta.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well and return to the warm pot. Add the sauce and toss to combine. Stir over low heat for 5 minutes so pasta can absorb the cream.
Transfer pasta to serving plates and serve with the walnuts and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
If you multiply the recipe (I just made it for 10 people) you will need to cook the garlic scapes in batches or they won't brown. Add a little water inbetween each batch to deglaze the pan.
* I have made it all three ways, and they're all delicious. My husband prefers when I add chicken.
A sweet effervescent wine like Moscato goes very well with this.