Sometimes the best culinary experiments are born out of necessity. The other day, I wasn’t able to run by the grocery store as planned, so I needed to make something for dinner out of what I had on hand. When you have good raw ingredients (thank you, backyard garden!) and a little inventiveness, I think that happens to be the best way to cook.
Our rainbow chard is growing like gangbusters right now. We’ve already harvested twice, and it just doesn’t stop. Caramelized onion makes anything taste good, so it’s my secret weapon. Add a creamy sauce and you’ve got yourself a deal.
Chard and Caramelized Onion Pasta Bake
1 bunch chard
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb farfalle or other small pasta
1 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs butter, divided
2 Tbs flour
2 cups milk
1 cup parmesan, grated
1 cup mozzarella, grated
Remove the stems from the chard and finely chop them. Roughly chop the leaves. Heat the olive oil and 1 Tbs of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, then turn the heat down, add the chard stems, and continue cooking until the onion is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and the chard leaves, turn the heat up to medium high, and sauté until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350º.
While pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir over medium heat until light brown and bubbly. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Bring just to a simmer, stirring, and allow to cook until thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss the pasta with the chard and caramelized onion mixture and the cream sauce and spread in a casserole dish. Top with the shredded mozzarella and bake until bubbly and starting to brown on top, about 20-30 minutes.