Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pasta with Greens, Gruyere and Bacon

Pasta with Greens, Gruyere and Bacon. Cooking Chat recipe.
Gruyère is one of my favorite cheeses. The rich nuttiness makes it a tasty snack on its own, and it also melts nicely to impart a lot of flavor when cooking. So when I was asked if I wanted to sample  cups Emmi Kaltbach™ Cave-aged Le Gruyère®  I quickly agreed. Though I was tempted to just crack it open when it arrived and start nibbling, I waited a week or so to plot what I wanted to make with it. When last weekend's weather didn't look good for grilling, it seemed like a good time for a pasta dish featuring the Gruyere cheese. Collard greens were on sale, so I grabbed them to combine with the cheese and bacon, and I was well on my way to a tasty new dish! You can easily substitute other greens here. This method for fixing the greens along with the bacon is also my go-to way of fixing them as a side dish.

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch collard greens, coarsely chopped
½ cup or so chicken broth
1 or 2 slices bacon
pinch salt & red pepper flakes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
bit of fresh oregano (or other fresh herb you have on hand)
1/2 cup Emmi Kaltbach™ Cave-aged Le Gruyère® cheese, shredded (plus extra to serve at table)
12 ozs elbow macaroni or other short pasta

Heat a large pot on medium high and spray with cooking oil (I use olive oil). Add the bacon and cook until it is nice and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and cool it on paper towel set on a plate to absorb the excess grease. Pour most of the extra grease out of the pan, but leave a bit for that bacon flavor! When the bacon is cool, crumble it into bite sized pieces and set it aside to add to the dish later.

Add a tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan, heat on medium. Add the garlic, cook for a minute or so until it starts getting fragrant. Gradually add the greens in a few batches, stirring the greens as you add them so they get well coated with the oil and garlic. Add a light pinch of salt, then stir in the chicken broth and balsamic vinegar. (You could certainly use other cooking liquid in place of chicken broth). Heat the liquid until it begins to simmer, then cover to cook gently on moderate heat. Stir the greens occasionally. You'll want to braise the greens for at least 20 minutes, 30 is better if you have time, so they get nice and tender, absorbing the garlic and broth flavor. Add the oregano and red pepper flakes about halfway through the greens cooking time.

Start boiling the water for pasta after you've added the greens. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta when it's done, then toss the pasta with the greens. Be sure to use up all the good liquid from cooking the greens to capture all the nutrients and flavor. After mixing the greens and pasta, stir in the cheese followed by the bacon. Serve at the table with a bit of extra grated Gruyère , and enjoy! This can be a main course, though we did have a bit of salmon on the side, and served with a nice Greek white wine.

Full disclosure: The Gruyère was provided to me as a free sample. The recipe is my own creation!