Gluten Free Creamy Parmesan Swiss Chard Pasta
Yields: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Comforting and creamy, this dish is a crowd-pleaser for the big and small. Ribbons of Swiss chard swirl throughout this noodle casserole, giving a nutrient boost. Gluten free noodles were used, and can be swapped out for your choice of pasta base.
12 ounces spaghetti or linguine noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white or yellow onion, finely minced
2 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
3 cups Swiss chard, finely diced**
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons arrowroot flour (3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour if not GF)
1/2 teaspoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon pepper (optional)
3/4 of a pound chicken breast, diced (optional and can leave out if vegetarian)
**I used Swiss chard because our garden is overflowing. However, I recognize not everyone has easy access, so spinach can be swapped in for times that Swiss chard is not available.
1. Cook 12 ounces spaghetti (or desired noodle, gluten free, etc.) according to directions and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Dice chicken on a separate cutting board and set aside. Cut Swiss chard into shreds (finely chopped), finely chop onions and mince the garlic.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan. Sauté chicken, garlic, onions, and Swiss chard. Add balsamic vinegar, and cook for 6-8 minutes until chicken is cooked through and remove from heat.
4. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to a sauté pan on medium heat to begin the roux (sauce). Once the butter begins to melt, slowly add in the arrowroot flour, and whisk until combined. Slowly pour in the milk, a few tablespoons at a time, continuing to whisk as components are mixed. Continue adding milk slowly until all is incorporated. Add salt, nutmeg and pepper (if desired).
5. Remove from heat, and slowly fold in 1 cup (leaving 1/4 cup for topping) of Parmesan cheese. Mix noodles and sauce in a heat proof baking dish (lightly greased if necessary). Top with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until cheese on top is melted and bake is bubbly. Remove from oven and enjoy!
An abundance of Swiss chard from a successful garden is the inspiration for this dish.
I didn’t add pepper to the dish, but we seasoned with a little ground black pepper at the table. One of my kiddos is super sensitive to the slightest bit of pepper, so I omit most pepper in recipes. However, I would imagine most people prefer a little more heat, so adding freshly ground pepper, or even a little chili powder, right into the sauce might be a good option.
Our humble garden that grows Swiss chard so well. Beets, not so much.
I go back and forth with adding chicken to this dish. If I have an extra chicken breast around and we haven’t had much protein for the week, I’ll dice it up and toss it in with the sautéing veggies. Equally, when we’re in the mood for a vegetarian dish, there is no need to add chicken. Either way, this is a tasty and family friendly meal.
For the kids, this dish is likened to a creamy cheese sauce and noodles, with a little depth in flavor from the Swiss chard, onions and garlic. My kids enjoyed it, and believe it or not, telling them something is from the garden actually makes them eat it more! They helped plant, weed and feed the chard, so it really helps them see the concept of “farm” to table.
A note about the arrowroot flour – this flour is a great thickening agent for a gluten free option. However, it can be a little gummy (same thing happens with tapioca flour), so use sparingly. When making a roux, it sometimes may seem that you need more flour to thicken, but give a little bit of time, and it should thicken with the heat and lightly stirring. Whole wheat pastry flour works well, too, and if you don’t desire a gluten free meal, it’s a good option. If you do use whole wheat pastry flour, or even all-purpose flour, you may need a tablespoon or so more as it’s not as thick as the arrowroot flour.
Lastly, it is not necessary to bake the dish as the final step. I do, as I prefer it that way. However, everything is cooked and you could simple mix together the sauce and noodles and serve. In this way, you get dinner on the table faster and you don’t have to turn on the oven and heat up the house.
*This post was originally published July 2015, and has been updated and republished July 2017.