(Click on photos for a close up!)
Rain? I am sorry to hear that. Dare I say that it is deliciously warm and sunny here in Texas? With all of this sunshine our garden has been going crazy. The mustard greens are about as tall as me, the brussels sprouts are almost big enough to eat, and the chard just keeps growing. Last night I snipped off about 30 leaves of chard and decided to incorporate them into a baked pasta dish. Trevor and I are on a kick of what we like to call "Healthy Living". Healthy Living requires cutting back on booze and meat, eating more fruits and veggies and drinking a lot of water. While this dinner is not low-cal or fat free, it is seriously delicious and packed with healthy greens.
I made my usual mac n' cheese but instead of adding 2 cups of milk to my bechamel I added one cup of milk and one and a half cups of buttermilk. Buttermilk gives the dish a tangy kick, which works well with the rich cheeses, sweet peas and slightly bitter greens. If y'all in the Northeast are in need of some comfort food, you must give this recipe a try!
Buttermilk Mac n' Cheese with Chard and Peas
1 lb. box of Farfalle or pasta of your choice
1-2 bunches of fresh chard
1 bag frozen peas
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp Coleman's mustard
A few shakes of dried marjoram, paprika and cayenne pepper
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 cups grated cheese (I used a combination of gruyere, cheddar and parmesan)
Breadcrumbs or panko and extra butter to top
Wash chard and slice off stems at the bottoms of the leaves. If the stems are particularly tough, cut them out of the leaves. Blanch greens in boiling water for about 30 seconds or until they turn bright green. Place in a colander and let cool. When greens are cool enough to touch, squeeze out excess liquid and chop into bite-size ribbons. Set aside.
Cook pasta until just al dente. Throw the peas in at the very end, cook for roughly 30 seconds and drain.
In a large pot (I used the one I boiled my pasta in) melt butter. Add shallots and saute 1-2 minutes until soft. Whisk in flour to make a roux and let roux toast for a minute or two. When roux is fragrant and toasty smelling, whisk in mustard powder and herbs/spices, then whisk in milk. Turn heat down to low and add buttermilk and cheeses, stirring until cheeses are melted. Add pasta, peas and chard in with the cheese sauce, stirring well to combine. Season to taste.
Pour mac n' cheese into a buttered cast iron skillet or dish. Top with breadcrumbs and dot with butter. Bake for about 15 minutes in a 425 oven until bubbly and browned on top. Serve as-is, or with a few shakes of Frank's Red Hot for a little added kick!