spaghetti with swiss chard and garlic chips

[This recipe got a light refresh in 2019 and some new photos.]

It’s a tough thing, you know, growing up and realizing you might not be exactly what you once thought you might. I am most certainly not the next Susanna Hoffs, Joan Jett or Mrs. Jon Bon Jovi; I’m not a doctor or astronaut but more fitting for this conversation, I always thought I would be an avid ingester of all sorts of greens and here I am, still quite put off by most of them.

what you'll needseparate leaves from stems

I know this is something of a sacrilege in the food-fixated world, but I’ve never gotten into broccoli rabe (too bitter, almost always too tough), kale (tastes “funny”) and collards (ditto). I wish I would and I wish I could, but I’ve also learned that there are bigger fish to fry (so yeah, that too) than to fret over those things that have just never appealed to you.

ready to go

But Swiss chard is my green; it’s my boo. We get along famously. It picks up where cooked spinach in dishes leaves off (too soft, loses flavor too easily); it’s a little tougher but still tender enough to cut with the side of a fork, it holds it own in big soups and stews and quiches and it’s just bursting with all of that iron-y goodness I miss out on, eschewing so many other members of the humble greens family. I not only like it, I look for excuses to cook it and this was one of my favorites yet.

garlic, becoming chipsgarlic chipscook the stemstoss tossspaghetti with swiss chard and garlic chipsspaghetti with swiss chard and garlic chips

One year ago: Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart This is the best thing, ever. I am making it again this month. And again.
Two years ago: Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes

Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Garlic Chips

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Source: Gourmet, November 2008
  • Print

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise though I am sure crosswise would work as well
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (we skipped this)
  • 2 pounds green Swiss chard, stems and center ribs finely chopped and leaves coarsely chopped separately
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut into slivers
  • 6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/2 cups) or ricotta salata, coarsely grated

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Cook onion in oil remaining in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add currants and cook, stirring, until plumped, about 1 minute.

Stir chard stems into onion mixture with water and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in chard leaves and cook, covered, until stems and leaves are tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 5 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water and drain spaghetti.

Toss spaghetti with chard, olives, and 1/2 cup cooking water, adding more cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with feta or ricotta salata and garlic chips.

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101 comments on spaghetti with swiss chard and garlic chips

  1. That looks delicious! I want it for dinner tonight. I love most greens, but some people in my household still need convincing. This looks like an easy and tasty way to slip some ruffage into his diet! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Deb,
    I am happy to know that I am not alone in my disdain for greens, but happy to know you have found one that you love! Maybe, just maybe, I will change my mind….

    (P.S.-I am a Southerner turned New Englander and spent one too many late summer nights on rural roads…anyone who has EVER smelled a collard patch in the dead heat of a Carolina summer as I have, would NEVER NEVER blame you for not liking collards!)

  3. beth

    One of my favorite meals (even satisfies my green-eschewing husband) is my somewhat spicier take on one of the pasta dishes at Otto. I love it because it’s super flavorful for such a fast and simple dish. Just brown some hot italian sausage meat in a pan, add chopped garlic and crushed red pepper to taste, wilt in some swiss chard and toss the lot of it with penne. Sprinkle on some locatelli and you’re good to go. I think at Otto they use sweet sausage meat and escarole, but I like the swiss chard because it holds up a little better.

    I will have to try this recipe, though. I have a bunch of kalamata olives left over from the puttanesca we made the other night, and I was wondering what I could do with them (aside from, you know, eating them right out of the tub).

  4. I love Swiss Chard, too – you can rarely go wrong with it.

    I have to say, in these pictures the garlic looked like oysters, delicious, sauteed oysters…mmmm…

  5. Gaby

    “it’s my boo” Deb, I love your writing! Your personality just jumps off the page, and it’s a personality I’m very happy to have come across thanks to this website (not to mention all of the delicious food). Oh, and as long as I’m leaving this, I’ll let you know that my husband LOVES that you like to use bourbon in your recipes! Just wanted to let you know how appreciative I am of your site. Take care.

  6. Denise

    hmmm… I thought I was alone in not liking greens. Like you, I really really want to but they just did not taste good. Except for spinach. I love spinach so I think I’ll give this swiss chard a try. I love other things swiss… swiss cheese, swiss chocolate, swiss miss – LOL! ok maybe not swiss miss, but you get the point! ;o

    1. Denise, my view of greens follows Deb’s almost exactly. I have come to love Swiss Chard – stems separated and sliced thinly (think colorful celery) and cooked a bit longer than the leaves (cut small enough so you won’t have a chewing challenge), yum.

  7. I just made this recipe yesterday! I have never cooked with swiss chard (although it is ubiquitous here in Catalonia) and thought it was just the thing to get me started. And it was. So delicious! Now I’ll have to try some of the swiss chard recipes mentioned here in the comments and others I have seen.

    One more note: I added chickpeas to the recipe, which were fantastic in it (if a little…roly poly), and used grated provolone because I didn’t have feta. And the leftovers were delicious for lunch today.

  8. Debra,
    I love broccoli rabe, but has to be in season, and done just right, w/ garlic and olive oil. My husband is a greens hater. Spinach, broccoli, kale, blah blah.
    He will eat arugula, thank God! but that’s it.

    I have never ventured into Swiss Chard much, but will try it.
    Your pasta dish is beautiful, as always.
    Happy Halloween!
    Stacey Snacks

  9. Peggy

    This looks so good! I already had a dinner planned out but must change it now. Heading straight to the store for some swiss chard. Thanks Deb!

  10. Akila

    Totally random but . . . I was at the doctor’s office months and months ago and I picked up a Real Simple magazine where they had a list of “blogs to get you started,” all about how the average hassled but interested man and woman could easily get into blogs. Smitten Kitchen was listed as one of the food blogs for beginners to read because of the beautiful writing and photography. I am assuming that you know this, but in case you didn’t, now you do. Of course, this information is entirely unhelpful to you if you didn’t know about it, because I can’t provide you the issue number or date or anything else about the magazine. See, I told you that this would be a totally random topic.

  11. I saw this recipe in Gourmet and have been planning to make it! Looks fantastic. We put in a very small garden this year and one of the few things we grew successfully was rainbow swiss chard. I’ve had more swiss chard than I know what to do with because it is such an easy and long growing plant. I’ve tried several of the recipes on Epicurious, but one of my favorite ways to eat it is a simple recipe I picked up from our Farmer’s Market:
    1 big bunch of swiss chard
    1 clove garlic (minced)
    1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
    1/4 teaspoon tabasco sauce
    Salt and Pepper to Taste
    You simply wilt the chard with a little water in a skillet, add the rest of the ingredients and saute briefly until the garlic is golden. It’s wonderful!

    I also really love swiss chard in place of escarole in a classic white bean and escarole soup.

  12. Susan

    I was interested while looking at the pic’s but the kalamata olives, garlic and plumped currents cinched the deal. Don’t discount what a simple raisin or current can add to a dish. It adds a sweetened encounter to the occasional bite of an otherwise very savory meal. They don’t sweeten the whole just get it when you fork one gives you two taste sensations in one’s a really good addition to this particular combination ingredients.

  13. stacy

    That looks delicious! If you like Swiss chard, how do you feel about beet greens? I really like roasting beets (you can wrap them in foil so they aren’t so messy), dicing them up, and tossing them with pasta (penne or shells are my favorite) and beet greens. You can steam the greens right over the pot if you want to be efficient, but I think it’s better when you saute them with olive oil and garlic and onion. It’s so good. I add dill, but you don’t have to. The beets turn the pasta pink–it’s so exciting!

  14. thistle

    I made this as soon as I got my magazine this month. And I thought it was really good. I also omitted the currants–I hate suddenly biting into a raisin or currant or other unexpected sweet thing in a savory dish.

  15. That dish looks absolutely delicious. Here it is 12:20 am EST, and I could stand at the kitchen counter and eat some of that with a fork. How much fun would that be?
    By the way, you have a great blog!

  16. Do you ever stop by Chinatown to try some greens that are not available at most supermarkets? I think there are things there that may prove to be less tough/bitter. After all, you can have more than just one boo.

  17. Deb, you may not be those people whom you named, but you’re much better, in my opinion!! That’s what’s fun about life – you never know what the future hold :0)

    LOVE. THAT. PASTA. I’m a swiss chard & garlic fanatic!!!

  18. I would never have thought about using swiss chard with pasta. (somehow I thought it would be too sweet?) I usually save the touch tops of Romaine and throw it into soups and pasta dishes.

    Thanks for the new recipe…love the garlic chips too.

    blessing to you;
    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted

  19. deb

    Hi Danny — No, but I should! I really like Chinese broccoli and do find many of their greens more tender. Many boos! I will become a wanton greens-eater.

    Pirouette — I really don’t style the pictures, largely due to a desire for them to look as they are, and also, uh, laziness. We get into more detail about our approach to food photos in this post, if you wish to read back.

  20. i’ve never seen so much garlic in one dish! it looks really good and has to have tons of flavor. i like the olives in it. olives and garlic go really well together. i always get a package of them when i go grocery shopping and usually eat them in the aisles. haha

  21. Tim

    I made this too! It was so amazing. Garlic trips are one of my new favorite things. And I completely agree that the Cranberry, Caramel and Almond tart is the best thing ever.

  22. Growing up in Singapore, my grandmother would always chop garlic and dry it like you did with the chips and keep it in a tupperware to use as garnish in soups and other dishes.

    She’d also do the same with finely sliced shallots. Try it it’s really yummy!

  23. This is funny — I’m a total lover of broccoli rabe, and I learned to cook some serious collard (and mustard, beet, whatever) greens since they’re G’s preferred vegetable, being a southern boy. And if we consider arugula a green — well, I just made a potato, leek and arugula soup that is sheer heaven in a bowl.

    But chard has simply never been my green of choice. Never buy it, never cook it. Maybe I need to branch out, so to speak…

  24. Erin

    I “discovered” Swiss Chard in my farmshare this summer. It is now my favorite vegetable! I made Farmgirl Susan’s Chard and Artichoke dip and Chard tuna salad, and invented some new favorites of my own, including Swiss Chard macaroni and cheese. Talk about alleviating some of the guilt with not-so-healthy foods! Welcome to the fold. And I have been told that it is one of the easiest things to grow from seed, will work in a container for the space-challenged, and keeps producing for a long season.

  25. Deb, this dish looks/sounds amazing. I would definitely add the currants, though, as a lively sweet/tart touch. And the garlic chips I could totally see sprinkled over mashed potatoes!

  26. Love this! I tried the recipe tonight for my family…with a few changes. I didn’t use currants. I substitute the olives for black olives and used spinach instead of swiss chard- which wasn’t avail. at my local grocery. Love the garlic! Wonderful recipe-thanks so much!

  27. Try kale, chard, spinach or Tuscan kale “agro-dolce” – saute a little bacon (or not) garlic (love the chips) then the greens and just “about that much sugar” then a splash of balsamic. So delicious. Could easily be tossed with pasta or wheatberries or farro would be better.

    We often don’t have the full side dish we anticipated because this is so good it’s picked at in the pan…

  28. Liz

    I made this dish tonight, and it was tasty!
    My version included shallots and spinach. The garlic chips are spectacular blasts in the mouth.

    Thanks for sharing! – Liz

  29. Lizzy

    Mmm delicious! We made this recipe with some strange cabbagelike thing that we got in our organic vegetable box. I still have no idea what we ate but it tasted delicious!

  30. Nishta

    this is about to become our election-night, nervously-watch-the-returns dinner! I also made the peanut-butter crispy bars for a friend’s birthday (she has the same feelings about that flavor combination as your Alex) and they were a big ole’ hit. what did I do without you, Deb?

  31. oksoimnotperfect

    PW mentioned you on her blog and had a picture of this… looked so yummy I had to drop by… now I have to make it … GARLIC CHIPS!?! I’m so trying that!

  32. That looks amazingly good…I’ll have to make it. Love Garlic, love kale…it’s right up my ally and a pasta dish to boot!
    First time to your sight via Ree @ Pioneer Woman…..see your coming to the Ranch. Would love to enter her contest, very much in driving distance but am knee deep in gardening now. Thanks again for the recipe and I’ll be frequenting your site.

  33. TheKitchenWitch

    Followed you here from PW and man, this pasta looks so yummo…eww, did I just use a Rachael Ray? I hate that perky piece of…ahem, sorry.! Plus, I had to tell you that I wanted to be Mrs. Jon Bon Jovi too. Sigh.

  34. Kali

    I too came here from PW, and I saw this last night. I kept thinking about it all day and made it for dinner. It was delicious! I could only find red Swiss chard, and I don’t know how much of a taste difference there is, but it was really great! I’m sure I’ll be making more recipes from your site!

  35. barleygirl10200

    Just made this with arugala and spinach instead of chard and fusili instead of spaghetti(using up the pantry!) Also did use the currants…AMAZING!!!!

  36. Sandra B

    Have everything for this dish ‘cept the olives and I think I can spring for those.
    Can’t tell you enough how grateful I am that you are so good at what you do so I can look like a genius in the kitchen :) I always give you the credit tho’.
    Huge love to you, your hubs, and that sweet-cheeked baby of yours.

  37. Carly

    This is my new favorite lunch! I love greens, but was getting kinda bored with how I usually prepare them. This recipe is easy, fast and so delicious. I’ve been making it 3 times a week!

  38. Absolutely fabulous. I am with you, Deb, in the love of swiss chard. Yellow, red, rainbow, I love it all. I put off eating it for such a long time because I was afraid it would be too bitter, like so many other greens. And now, I long for chard season and get it absolutely every chance I get. Thank you for having such a great selection of ways to enjoy it!

  39. Julie

    Delish! I made this tonight and subbed spinach for the chard (because I bought too much forgetting I’m about to go out of town). I was afraid that it would be really oily before I put in the spaghetti but it wound up being absolutely delicious. I even added a bit of red pepper flake to spice it up. I have loved every recipe of yours that I’ve tried.

  40. Cristy Lee

    First, thanks for the fantastic website! I feel a special connection to you as I too cook from a tiny NYC kitchen; I refer to it as the “kitchen nook” and I refuse to let it limit my cooking. Well, except fresh pasta making– a pasta maker might just be what topples our House of Jenga. I made this last night and my husband and I adored it (and he’s usually more of a Swiss Miss, Swiss Steak kinda guy). I used all ingredients listed in the recipe (didn’t measure anything, just all to taste) and I say add the currants!Their sweetness tempered through the cooking process and they were tasty and subtle. I added hot pepper flakes and used whole wheat spaghetti (finally found a brand that doesn’t taste like, ahem, whole wheat). Oh, and my food fear? Olives as ingredients. Love them outta the jar, by the handful, in martinis, but oddly; everything else terrified me. Until this dish.

  41. paige

    I added a healthy squeeze of lemon to this and a dash of cayenne – and some mushrooms. I don’t have any currants so had to leave them out.

  42. Lili

    I love this recipe but I too omitted the currants. I didn’t have the kalamata olives and feta and love the taste of it without them. I love your blog:)

  43. Made this again tonight with a mix of greens from the farm we are camping on tonight in Costa Rica. Had to sub out the feta with parmasean since we are in the middle of the cloud forest but it came together fantastically. Thanks again, deb!

  44. Laura

    Why do you add the cooking water back to the drained pasta? PS everything I’ve made has been amazing – thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes!

    1. deb

      Laura — It’s the Italian way (!) (sorry, I always shout this), but I also love the technique. Basically, you’re slightly undercooking the pasta — al dente and all. Then, when you add the extras to the pasta, you return a little pasta cooking water (good to use because it’s already salted, warm and starchy) and the pasta finishes cooking in the sauce. As it drinks the cooking water, it also picks up the other flavors and it makes for a very harmonious pasta dish. Hope that helps.

  45. Reneé

    Wow, Deb! Why have I not tried this before. Too late of a night (reads: hungry) to start in on the chard & white bean stew, I whipped this up! AHHHH! Dangerously satisfying. Thank you!

  46. the gert

    I just made this with chard, beet greens, and broccoli, possibly inelegant, but totally cleaned out my veggie drawer. I didn’t have olives, and did use the currants. And I used this quirky bucatini that I picked up at my local Italian shop. It was delicious enough for thirds.

  47. Sarah

    If you ever want to give broccoli rabe another go – try boiling it to wilt it first, in just a little water – somewhere between steaming and boiling. It takes some of the bitterness out that mere sauteeing does not. It is the only way I do it!

  48. Sarah

    Addendum to my “steam/boil” tip for broccoli rabe. If you still want the oil/garlic saute aspect, once you have wilted the broccoli rabe, while it drains, heat some oil with garlic until the garlic is infused in the oil. Mix the broccoli rabe back in and stir until coated. Add hot pepper flakes if desired!

  49. Bea

    This is a fantastic recipe even if you omit the currants and the feta (but better with them, of course). I always get swiss chard from my veggie coop and this is my favourite way to eat it. Today I cooked the spaguetti perfectly al dente and it made the dish even better.

  50. Alice K.

    Made this for dinner tonight. The chard at my market looked pretty lifeless, so I used broccoli rabe instead. I briefly wilted the rabe as others say this tames the bitterness. I think it does, since my husband didnt’ complain about the bitterness tonight, and he has before. The dish came together easily and tasted great. I will try it again with swiss chard, but I’m sure it will be fine. For two people I use 1/2 lb. pasta and 1 lb. rabe, but I really could have used two lbs veggies since I like the veggie pasta ratio to be heavy on the veggies and lighter on the pasta. To cut down on the fat content, I skipped the cheese, but I’m sure that the dish would be great with it.

  51. Carrie

    I always forget why I don’t make this more often, because it is so dang tasty. Then I start peeling all those garlic cloves and instantly remember.

    I make it without currants and olives, and reduce the quantity of pasta a bit. I will remake this whenever I forget again about the prep.

    1. Kathy

      I saw a ‘kitchen hack’ for peeling garlic cloves: take two small metal ‘prep’ bowls, place unpeeled garlic cloves in one, tip the second bowl upside-down to cover the other, grab the rims and shake them forcefully for about 20 seconds or so. Your garlic should be peeled!

  52. semicircle66

    OMG…SO good. Just, don’t, don’t, don’t burn the garlic like I did. Luckily I bought 2 heads and lightly fried a 2nd batch. This recipe is nuts because of the fried garlic. Also, makes enough for an army. This may be one recipe I am OK eating leftovers of for the next four days!

  53. Kathy K

    Swiss chard is easy to grow in pots and/or ‘grow boxes’. My favorite recipe for chard is in an omelet with sauted onions, mushrooms and garlic…and occasionally, a little bacon. Until now, that is! Making this recipe today, I may have to ‘put an egg on it’!

  54. Meghan

    This is 10/10 good. Definitely use hot red peppers. The garlic peeling is fussy but you can cut it down if you buy a head with massive cloves; you’ll need to peel fewer cloves to get the effect.

  55. Esther

    I made this tonight with a bunch of red chard that was sitting in our fridge for days and that I didn‘t really know what to do with. I confess I wasn‘t really convinced that the greens with pasta would work out well – turns out it was delicious and even got praise by my husband who isn‘t really into eating experiments. I didn’t have feta in the house so substituted it with a kind of goat camembert style cheese plus some parmesan. Using the coloured chard had the charming side effect of tinting the pasta bright orange, too, which looked pretty!
    I have made your spinach quiche using swiss chard as a Substitute for spinach dozens of times and highly recommend it!

    This is my first comment after reading your blog for years and drawing so much inspiration and go to recipes from this site, so a heartfelt thank you, Deb, for the ongoing high quality, approachability and fun reads! I also find that almost all recipes work internationally, as I am from Germany, and that’s also rather marvelous in my opinion.

  56. eclecticdeb

    Inspiration strikes! This will be incredibly Keto friendly if I swap the pasta for zuchinni “noodles”. And with a side of chicken, it’s a great meal! I know what’s for dinner tonight…….

  57. Keri

    I regret making this, it was a lot of prep work for a meal I really disliked. I know it is all just personal taste. I thought the garlic chips ( no I didnt burn them) were bitter and this pasta was just very bland. I won’t make this again .

  58. Lena

    I made this last week with some of the chard that I got from my CSA. I was low on garlic, so I didn’t use as much as suggested in the recipe. I also used olive tapenade from a jar and raisins. To be honest, I thought that the dish was “okay” on the day that I made it; good but nothing really “wowed” me to say I would make this again. However, I had the leftovers 2 days later, and thought that it was much better. The caveat is that the pasta became discolored from the chard. Would definitely consider making this again.

  59. Chelsea

    Just made this. So good, but I am also very hungry and it is spaghetti and chard so how could it be bad. Wasn’t brave enough to do raisins (as a currants sub) but maybe next time, I’m curious.

  60. Jamie

    I made this recipe for dinner tonight, and it was a hit! Two ingredients I’d recommend adding for a finishing touch–the juice of ~1.5-2 Meyer lemons and chili flakes (sprinkled to a desired level of spice).

  61. Katrina

    Tried this yesterday and it’s my new favorite recipe that uses swiss chard. Skipped the currents and served the olives on the side and loved it!

  62. Amanda D

    Highly recommend the currants! My husband and I really enjoyed all the flavors of this dish, which I think was really rounded out with the currants. The tender greens. The crunchy garlic chips. The pop of salty olives and feta against the sweet currants. Definitely one of the more flavorful “greens” dishes I’ve made! Will make it again.