Sunday, October 11, 2015

Tagliatelle with rainbow chard, pine nuts and Gruyère & VIMA Gourmet Greek food blog awards

This post starts in an unorthodox and different way than usual because I have a happy announcement to make. Those of you who follow me on instagram or facebook may already know this. My blog has been nominated for three awards at the first ever Greek Food Blog Awards organized by Vima Gourmet magazine and needless to say I’m super excited and proud. The joy I get from blogging has everything to do with the fact that you, dear readers, are following my journey, cook my recipes, give me feedback and share your thoughts with me. The fact that I’m nominated for an award is the cherry on top yet it certainly gives me a sense of accomplishment. It is a wonderful feeling being recognized for the work you do, and of course your support would mean the world to me.

My Little Expat Kitchen is nominated in the following three categories and I’d be thrilled if you voted for me. You can do so by clicking on the links below (three different categories, three different links, so three separate votes):
1) Best Cooking Blog
2) Best Sweet Treats
3) Best Food Photography & Styling.
In order to vote, you must be logged-in on your facebook account, and click the “like” button below the Greek text and next to where it says “Like for Vote” in each category.
Thank you very much for your support!!

The recipe…
Lately I’ve been cooking with all sorts of colorful ingredients. Exhibit no1, rainbow chard. Isn’t it amazing? Those bright, vibrant, psychedelic colors are stunning and kind of weird when you realize you’ll end up eating them. This chard in particular was organic and thus more colorful, but it also came with its own little creatures. You know, those little green bugs that I had to “exterminate” i.e. rinse away, as soon as I came home, in plenty of running water.

While I customarily use chard in Greek pies or with rice to make a dish similar to this spanakorizo (spinach rice), this time I thought of using them in a pasta dish. S loves pasta, so naturally I have become an expert on inventing pasta dishes, especially those containing vegetables, as is evident if you take a look here.

The combination of pasta and vegetables without heavy, cream sauces is for me ideal since I prefer light pasta dishes. With such dishes, the selection of cheese plays a major role. There’s not only parmesan or pecorino out there, you know; there are so many flavorful cheeses with robust flavors and interesting textures that can elevate even the simplest pasta dish. In this case, I opted for Gruyère that’s slightly sweet, nutty, earthy and salty, and as it slowly melts over the piping hot pasta it has a wonderfully creamy texture.

With the soft bitterness of the sautéed chard, the earthy trace and crunch of pine nuts, the soft heat of garlic and freshness of lemon, the dish has an autumnal feel to it. It’s a warming dish that embraces and satiates you, without being heavy; perfect for these autumnal days.

Tagliatelle with rainbow chard, pine nuts and Gruyère

As with all my pasta recipes with vegetables, there is no sauce per se, but a light “sauce” is created from the chard and pasta cooking liquids, along of course with the olive oil. The starch in the pasta water helps to bind the “sauce” and together with the creamy Gruyère you have a beautiful resulting texture.

The rainbow chard leaked its colors onto the tagliatelle which came as a pleasant surprise. Some of them became reddish, other yellowish. If you can’t find rainbow chard, use regular green chard (Swiss chard) or even spinach which is similar in flavor, even though chard doesn’t leave that astringent feel in the mouth.

Yield: 4 servings

1 bunch (about 270 g) rainbow chard (weight after trimming 230 g)
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large garlic clove, minced
25 g (a little less than ¼ cup) pine nuts
1 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Gruyère cheese, grated
300-350 g dried tagliatelle

Special equipment: colander, grater

Rinse the chard under well cold running water. Separate the leaves from the stalks by cutting them at the point where the two meet. Cut off the stringy end bits from the stalks and cut them into long strips lengthwise, roughly the size of the tagliatelle, but not too long (about the length of a finger). Take the leaves and cut out the central hard veins (don’t remove it all the way up, only up until it’s thick) and put them together with the rest of the stalks. Cut the leaves in half or thirds lengthwise, depending on how wide they are, in order to keep them long; they’re easier to eat that way with the tagliatelle.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil over high heat and add the tagliatelle. Cook until al dente (firm but not very hard) or cook to your liking.

While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, prepare the chard “sauce”. You will need to add some of the pasta water to the chard so keep that in mind.

Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large, wide sauté pan (one that will fit the pasta as well) over medium heat and add the pine nuts. Toast them and when they start to take on a golden color, add the chard stalks and the garlic. Turn heat down to medium-low and sauté for 5-6 minutes or until tender but not mushy, stirring regularly and being careful not to burn the garlic and pine nuts. Add the chard leaves and sauté for 2-3 minutes stirring continuously. Season with salt and pepper and add the lemon juice. Stir well and take the pan off the heat.

Take 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid from the pot and when the pasta is ready, strain it in a colander. Add the pasta to the sauté pan with the chard, add a little of the reserved pasta water and grate some Gruyère on top. Toss everything well yet gently with tongs and immediately you’ll see the cheese starting to melt.

Note: Add more pasta water if you think your pasta is too dry.

Serve immediately on individual plates making sure to pick up the pine nuts from the bottom of the pan because, being so small, they tend to get lost in the pan. Drizzle with some olive oil and grind some black pepper on top. Finally, grate some more Gruyère and sprinkle it over the top.



  1. I also live in Den Haag and have never seen chard sold anywhere, not even the markt. Where did you get yours? Thx.

    1. That's so strange to hear; it's everywhere. You're not looking at the right places, Debbie. I got this at Ekoplaza.

    2. Thanks Magda. I will look for it this week 😃.

    3. Good luck! Hope you enjoy the dish if you try it :)

  2. Congrats and well-deserved! Consistently high quality delivery, and perfect prose to go along with the beautiful pics. Love this pasta dish too, right up my alley, simple and elegant. will place my vote in a minute :)

    1. Thank you so much Joumana for your support, kind words and vote!! :)
      This pasta is so good. Pasta and greens is a beautiful combination!

  3. Congratulations for the nominations Magda! I'll go and vote. I don't think I've ever commented before, but I've been following & cooking along for years, from the years I was in the exact opposite position, living in Greece to now back in The Hague. Thoroughly loving all your dishes!

    1. Thank you Kim! It means a lot to me that you'll take the time to vote. I appreciate it!! :)
      You were in Greece? Where exactly?

    2. In Athens (Makriyianni), but also a few months in Evros (not my favorite place to live but the bouyourdi was the very best!). Every summer we still spend in Zakynthos. The only place my husband eats honey from :)

  4. The chard is so beautiful - and so good for us! Love this type of dish, especially on a work night!

    I just voted for you in all three categories, and I wish you luck! It was also fun to see a photo of you! :)


    1. Thank you so much, David, I appreciate it! Mystery solved, huh? :)
      Yes! It's so healthy and easy to prepare.