Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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May 1, 2012

Chicken & Swiss Chard Pasta Bake

Libations used: A generous splash of white wine 
Libations left over: Well, you only used a splash so finish up that bottle with dinner...
I made a Sake-Steamed Chicken the other week and had a lot of chicken to use up.  Plus, seeing all the pretty Swiss chard at the market reminded me of this recipe for a pasta bake I found on The Kitchn.  For recipes that call for a very small amount of wine, I always have some wine ice cubes stashed away in the fridge.  Sometimes I don't always want to pop open a new bottle if I'm using just a small amount and I'm only cooking for myself.  You can use regular penne pasta, but I opted for The Kitchn's suggestion of using whole wheat to make it healthier.  Ricotta is also a pretty light cheese and the top is dusted with panko bread crumbs and Parmesan.  I ended up sprinkling a mix of Parmesan and Asiago (thank you Trader Joe's for this handy package of cheesy goodness) and added more than the recipe called for, because I just love my cheese too much.

Chicken & Swiss Chard Pasta Bake - serves 6-8

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat penne
  • 3 bunches Swiss chard
  • 3 Tbs, olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • Splash of dry white wine (I used one of my chardonnay ice cubes)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I added more and used a mix with Asiago)
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

- Preheat oven to 375.
- Cook the pasta according to directions, and strain and set aside.
- Rinse the Swiss chard and pull the leaves off the thick stalks, discarding the stems.
- Tear the leaves into large chunks and set aside.
- Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or big stock pot over medium heat.
- Cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.
- Add the chard and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Stir a few times to wilt the greens , cover and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Cook until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add the cooked noodles, chicken, ricotta and the wine to the greens, seasoning with more salt and pepper.
- Transfer to a medium-sized baking dish.
- Combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs and 1 Tbs of olive oil.
- Sprinkle the mixture over the pasta and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.