Somehow in all the fun and craziness of this past two weeks, I totally forgot to post this recipe! I was going through my camera and saw the photos and thought “OOPS”! We got a beautiful large bunch of Swiss chard in the first week of our CSA share from Porter Farms and with the abundance of other greens, I really wanted to figure out something creative to do with the Swiss chard that to just cook it up. I had also grabbed a beautiful bunch of garlic scapes at the farmers market that I was contemplating making some type of pesto with. Then a beautiful post from last year on Jeanette’s Healthy Living, found it’s way to Tasty Yummies Facebook feed through someone I follow and I knew that was the answer. It was heaven sent!
I made a few changes to the recipe to make it my own, so feel free to do the same, yourself. If you cannot have nuts, obviously just leave out the walnuts, it will still be amazingly delicious. Additionally I love the very subtle spice from crushed red peppers, feel free to leave that out, if you wish. The Swiss chard was a nice addition to this pesto and nicely took the place of basil or even arugula, both of which I usually make my pestos from. Swiss chard is a highly nutritious vegetable that is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E and K. It also provides good amounts of dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium and copper. Recent research has shown that chard leaves contain at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants! You can read more about Swiss chard and it’s many benefits here.
Never had garlic scapes before? The twisty, curly, bright green stems are also sometimes called garlic shoots, stems or spears. Garlic scapes are the hard stem that grow above ground, soaking up the sun, while the bulb forms underneath. While the garlic scape is still young and edible, it is a curvy and tender green stalk with a small tightly closed bud on the end. As the garlic plant continues to mature, the scape or stalk will straighten and provide strength for the increasingly larger bulb below the ground’s surface, becoming too tough to eat. Garlic scapes contain a great deal of flavor and are great in pestos, thinly sliced like a scallion or chives for salads, soup, hummus, stir fries, etc. Garlic scapes have the flavor and aromatics reminiscent of garlic cloves, but not nearly as intense or strong.
I cooked up some gluten-free organic brown rice penne rigate from Jovial Foods and tossed it with the pesto, along with some of the pasta cooking water to loosen up the sauce a bit. I hadn’t yet tried this pasta, but I really liked it. It was really light, not too starchy and it had a nice bite to it. Ironically, the day I made this dish, Gluten-free Girl and the Chef posted a video about the secrets to and a “how to” on cooking gluten-free pasta. I followed their instructions and I found it to be helpful to allow the pasta to sit a bit before draining. I would be curious how this would work with Tinkyada brand pasta which I normally use, since it seems a bit starchier.
Besides pasta, this pesto would be great tossed on grilled or roasted veggies, spread on a toasted slice of your favorite gluten-free bread, over eggs, and the list could go on and on.
1 bunch garlic scapes Blanch the swiss chard leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds, just to remove chalky taste. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out the water.
1 bunch swiss chard, leaves only
1/4 cup raw walnuts (optional)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Juice from half a lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Put blanched swiss chard, garlic scapes, walnuts, crushed red pepper and lemon juice into the bowl of your food processor and process until still slightly chunky. Gradually pour olive oil in to feeder tube and continue processing until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve tossed with your favorite gluten-free pasta, add a little of the cooking liquid from the pasta to loosen up the sauce, if you wish.
1 bunch garlic scapes
Blanch the swiss chard leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds, just to remove chalky taste. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out the water.