Friday, March 22, 2013

The US Presidents and Rainbow Chard Rigatoni

I have been living and breathing information about the US Presidents these past few weeks.  Learning them in order; finding out who their Veep was and who else was on their cabinet; discovering what made them great -- or not so great -- leaders of our country; reading interesting tidbits about their personal lives.

FYI, John Quincy Adams liked to swim the Potomac daily -- in the nude.

Why do I have such a hobby as learning about the presidents, you ask?  It all boils down to a Social Studies Fair and 25 students who wanted to be presidents for the evening.  Maybe for life.

It's hard work transforming third graders into presidents -- research and reading and poetry writing along with 'interviews' they must transcribe... painting 'self' portraits as well as writing and memorizing speeches... coming up with a stellar costume. But they did the work and last night it paid off.  The Hall of Presidents was open and the public (parents and friends) enjoyed.

And now Teacher is going to crash...

But first I need to share a little bit about this rainbow chard you see here.

I hate the stuff.

Ok, ok, I don't hate it.  I used to.  A lot.  Something to do with it being the only vegetable that continually grew in our little garden growing up, making it and its super sandy texture a common occurrence on our dining table.

'Common'?  Maybe an understatement.

So when I went to Farmer's Market last week and my friend said, "Oh, you really need try this!" and I saw the nice price of one buck, I had to give it another try.


Well, maybe that sandy texture I remember wasn't as bad as my memory claimed it to be.  The taste?  Not that bad... according to my husband it was actually quite good.  In fact, he would like me to repeat this dish. Soon.  So, I guess chard isn't all that bad.  This dish isn't, that's for sure.

I guess I can't say I hate chard all that much anymore... and I can definitely say I might know more about the US presidents than the average American ;)

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living, June 2006


  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni, or other tubular pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds Rainbow chard, leaves cut into 1/2-inch strips and stems cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine 
  • 1/3 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) almonds, toasted
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta; cook 3 minutes less than package indicates. Drain.
  2. Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat about 1 minute. Add garlic and onions; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in chard, lemon zest, wine, 1 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until chard has just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in pasta, ricotta, and almonds. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, 3 to 4 minutes. Divide among 4 serving dishes. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

    COST: $6.27    COST PER SERVING (4): $1.57


  1. Enthralled with your idea of the total presidential immersion experience (and as always, the re-discovery of vegetables).

    I noticed that the recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart Living, and wanted to let you know that the Spectrum Cafe will be featuring Bev Utt, food writer and Martha Stewart's Everyday Living former consulting nutritionist, in an upcoming column. Just a heads up!

    Also, if you have additional recipes or thoughts that you would like to contribute to Spectrum, please don't hesitate to let me know. I'm looking forward to eating your amazing-sounding/looking/tasting sweet potato tacos tonight!

  2. I really love your blog! I'm in an international relationship, only I'm with a Spaniard and we live in Spain. Anyway, that fact about JQA made me laugh out loud.

    Chard is a big player in many Spanish dishes, but I don't think they have rainbow chard here. I prefer kale, but that is sadly not available here! :(

    1. We prefer kale, too! It is a big Brazilian thing, so we eat a lot of it here. A LOT!

  3. I`ve never tried chard, but this looks yummy enough to entice me into finally giving it a chance!

    Some Snapshots Blog

  4. I can`t tell if I`ve ever tried chard before. LOL. Your job sounds so fun, I`m jealous!


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