While many people become depressed in the dark months of mid-winter because of the lack of sunlight, I become depressed by the absence of green. In Colorado we have plenty of sunshine year round, a photographer’s dream, really, but in winter, nearly every where you look nature is dead, brown or sleeping. This, I have to tell myself, is the price you pay for living in place where the light is so pure and the air crystal clean, but Colorado is essentially a high desert with a lot of wind and little moisture, leaving everything parched and dry in wintertime. Still, as I scroll through my Instagram feed and see the rolling green hills of England or the rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest, I begin to ask myself why I live in a place where the winters are so harsh and where spring arrives so late that others are already harvesting their gardens while we are just planting the seeds. So, as the cold months drag on and there are still no signs of spring and certainly no remnants of summer, I indulge on “greens” in other forms: a sweater that is the colour of clover, fresh flowers on the kitchen table and lush, dark leafy greens on our dinner plates. We have kale or chard in some form at least once a week. I think rainbow chard is the most lovely winter vegetable, nearly as beautiful as a bouquet of flowers, with their jewel-toned ruby and topaz stems and deep, lush emerald leaves. Colours that I find so soothing – both to my eyes and my winter-worn soul.
This pasta is something we have often on busy weeknights. It’s incredibly easy to prepare and comes together in just the time it takes for the pasta to cook. The nutmeg adds a warmth that complements the greens perfectly. It’s a classic Italian combination.
Linguine with Chard and Bacon
1/2 pound linguine
1 TBSP olive oil
1/4 pound bacon, chopped
half an onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 – 5 large chard leaves
fresh grated nutmeg (to taste)
crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil & cook the linguine according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet and cook the bacon. When crisp add the diced onion and cook until slightly soft. While the onion cooks, remove the stems from the chard and dice. Chop the remain leaves and set aside. To the pan, add the garlic and the chopped stems. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the remaining chopped chard & sauté until the chard is just beginning to wilt, about 5 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving half a cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta in the pan with the chard & bacon, adding a splash or two of pasta water – just enough to bring the sauce together. Cook a minute longer. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes. Grate the fresh nutmeg over top. Serve the pasta topped with a few shavings of parmesan cheese. Serves 2 – 3.