Thursday, September 27, 2007


We are now in what is called "foliage". This is the period of time from mid-September to the end of October considered to be the high season here in Vermont, the time when the leaves change offering surprise and awe with their range of greens, gold, russet, orange, and apple reds, and visitors come in droves: in buses, in cars, by plane, by bike. It is a bittersweet season. The towns are glad for the added business and activity; the merchants, inns, and restaurants are thankful for and exhausted by the whir of people coming through their doors, and the locals rue the crowded streets and heavy traffic.

The second planting of swiss chard has come in. Long, voluminous leaves with their raspberry red spines. We like to braise it with a little olive oil and garlic, salt and pepper. On the menu now at the restaurant is a pasta somehow symbolic of this season made with swiss chard, pinenuts, and raisins, the chard vegetal and green tasting, the raisins adding a hint of honey on the palate: bittersweet.

Pasta con bietole...for two
toasted pinenuts, 1 tablespoon per person
raisins, 2 tablespoons per person
Grana Padano, or Parmigiano to taste
extra virgin olive oil
whole leaves of swiss chard, washed and chopped, about 3 large leaves per person
dried pasta--short of long, though we have a preference for penne

Soak raisins in hot water until plump and soft.
Set pasta water to boil. (Don't forget to salt the water).
Cook the chard in a large skillet with a healthy drizzle of olive and salt and pepper until well-wilted, or tender. Set aside.
When pasta water has boiled and is ready, drop the pasta in the pot.
Heat the skillet on medium heat, and warm the garlic, pinenuts, and raisins all together in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
Add the chard and season with salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients together, stirring regularly, for a few minutes then turn off.
When the pasta is ready, add a couple of tablespoons of the hot pasta water to the skillet with the chard and other ingredients.
Drain pasta well, then add pasta to the chard pan with the grated cheese. Toss well.
Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.

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