This Swiss chard pasta with bacon bits is a super easy, lighter meal and the lemony bread crumbs put it over the top.
- 6 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 1 large bunch of Swiss chard
- 4 strips of cooked bacon
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup of reserved pasta water
- 2-3 tablespoons parmesan shaker cheese
- fresh shredded parmesan (optional garnish)
- 3/4 box thin spaghetti
- 4 quarts water (approx.)
- 1 tablespoon salt
Lemony bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup of plain panko bread crumbs
- zest from one lemon
- Finely dice all the garlic and set aside.
- Cook four strips of bacon whenever it’s the best time. Now is good at the beginning of the process. You can also make this the day before, which is what I did.
- Fill your pasta pot with water and add salt to the water. Heat on medium-high heat until it boils and cook your pasta according to the box instructions. Thin spaghetti takes about 9-11 minutes to cook. So plan your timing so that the pasta doesn’t end up sitting in the hot water and overcooking. REMEMBER: you’re not draining the pasta because we are SAVING THE PASTA WATER. If you make the pasta before everything else is ready, just put it in a large bowl, drizzle with olive and mix so it doesn’t stick together. But save that pasta water. 😉
- Dice the Swiss chard stems and put them in a large pan. Give the Swiss chard a rough chop.
- Put the diced chard stems and some of the garlic in a pan (a ½ teaspoon, approx.) and drizzle a little olive oil (maybe a 1 teaspoon or so). The stems are tougher than the greens so they need a little extra cooking time. Cook on low heat (careful not to burn the garlic). Give it a mix and then put the lid on. Let it cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes.
- In a smaller pan, start heating the butter and olive oil for the lemony bread crumbs (SEE NOTE 3 BELOW). Should use low-to-medium heat here. Once the butter is melted, add the plain panko bread crumbs. Mix the crumbs so that the butter and olive oil are lightly coating all the crumbs. Stir continuously for about 5-7 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown and toasty. Keep an eye on these while cooking. They can burn easily. When finished set aside and let cool down completely.
- Once the chard stems have cooked a few minutes add the Swiss chard to that pan as well. Give it a pinch of salt and pepper and put the lid on. The greens should be fully wilted and ready in about 4-5 minutes. Once they are wilted, give them a stir to mix the stems, garlic and greens together. Put everything on a plate and set aside until the final assembly. No need to wash this pan – you need it for the pasta.
- While the bread crumbs and Swiss chard are cooking, you can zest your lemon. Once the bread crumbs are completely cooled down, add the lemon zest and mix together. Be sure to break up any zest clumps.
- I cooked four strips of bacon the day before I made this. You need to dice the bacon into bacon bits. My bacon was cold when I chopped it. Right before using as the topping, I microwaved the bacon bits for 10 seconds and they were good to go. If you’re making the bacon at the same time as the pasta, you probably won’t need to do that.
- In the same large pan you cooked the Swiss chard, add some olive oil and the rest of the garlic. Let the garlic cook for a minute or two, just until it’s fragrant. Using tongs, pull the pasta from the water and put directly into the pan. Drizzle a little olive oil on the pasta here. Start adding the pasta water. I start with ½ cup and if it needs more you can add it. Mix the pasta well. Next, add the Swiss chard and gently mix around again. Give the pasta a taste here. If you think it needs a splash more pasta water, add that. Don’t add more pasta water blindly. Taste your pasta first. Add the shaker parmesan cheese here and mix the pasta again. The shaker cheese is really at your discretion. Start with 2 tablespoons and if you want more – add it.
- Plate the pasta! Put pasta on a plate. Sprinkle with the lemony bread crumbs and bacon bits. If you want to add a little fresh grated parmesan here for garnish/presentation go ahead. If not, no biggie. I like to put a lemon wedge on the side too. A little squeeze of fresh lemon right before you eat this is amazing!
- Serve immediately.
- To heat leftovers, I found the best way was putting the pasta in a pan with a splash of water. Put on a lid and heat on low for about five minutes.
- To microwave, put pasta on plate or in bowl and add a splash of water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for approximately one and a half to two minutes.
- If you want to change the ratio of butter to olive oil for the lemony bread crumbs you can do that. All butter works. All olive oil works. Two tablespoons olive oil to one tablespoon of butter works. This is flexible so do what works best for you.
- You will probably have extra lemony bread crumbs – yay! Use them to top salads and fish. They’re really delicious and you will find uses for them.