You will recognize Spring onions at the market because they still have their greens attached. They come in all sizes—from very thin, pencil-sized ones to fatter, baby leek-sized ones to small- and medium-sized ones that are beginning to produce a bulb (anywhere from the size of a large marble on up to a golf ball). When you get them home, store them loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. To use them, trim away the root and rinse them well (particularly at the point where the green begins to flair out from the white and where sand and grit like to collect). The whole onion is useable, although I typically only use a quantity of the green that is equivalent to the quantity of white (the greens can be very long).
|Thinly sliced spring onions|
Zest of a small lemon
2 bunches Swiss Chard, stems removed (about 10 to 12 oz. trimmed weight)—sliced cross-wise into 1-inch wide ribbons and rinsed in several changes of water to remove all grit
1 lb. Fusilli, or other short sturdy pasta
Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/3 c. (1 oz.) Freshly grated Pecorino
Heat the oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Crumble the sausage and add to the pan. (Note: it is easier to crumble the sausage—which might be a bit sticky—if you lightly oil your fingertips.) Cook until browned and cooked through—about 5 minutes.
Remove the sausage and add the onion to the pan along with a pinch of salt, the pepper flakes and the lemon zest. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened—5 minutes or less.
(If the pan seems dry or the sausage was very lean, add a bit more olive oil). Begin to add the chard to the pan a handful at a time, turning with tongs as you add it so that it will become coated in the fat and onions and will begin to collapse. If there is no water clinging to the leaves (from washing), add a few tablespoons of water. Reduce the heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is just tender (not mushy). Return the sausage to the pan. Set aside and keep warm while the pasta cooks.
While the chard is cooking, bring 6 quarts of water to the boil in a large stock/pasta pot. Add 2 to 3 Tablespoons of salt. After adding the sausage back to the chard, drop the pasta into the boiling salted water and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water. Add the fusilli to the chard and toss to combine. If it seems dry, add a bit of reserved pasta water. Scatter the cheese over the pasta, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and toss again. Serve, garnished with more cheese, if you like. Serves 4 to 6.
Note: During the fall and winter months I make this pasta exactly as it appears in Alice Waters' cookbook The Art of Simple Food. Omit the lemon zest and use a thinly sliced red onion instead of the spring onions. After removing the sausage from the pan, add the onion and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to caramelize a bit.
Begin adding the chard and proceed with the recipe as written.
(Recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters)