Spaghetti and meatballs is the standard American pasta fare. However, Italian cuisine is based on combining what’s in season with what you have in your cupboard. Classic cacio e pepe has only three ingredients besides the spaghetti: Parmesan cheese, pasta water, and pepper. Creating pasta dishes from the contents of your fridge can be an exciting and surprisingly satisfying way to use up leftover ingredients. In this dish, I had some Swiss chard, crème fraîche, anchovy paste, garlic, and lemons wallowing in the fridge. I combined it all in such a way and made an amazing meal in the time it takes to boil pasta.
Swiss chard, the star of this pasta, is a great leafy green to have on hand. Loaded with iron and various vitamins, it’s a hardy leaf that will keep in the fridge for up to a week. When buying, be sure to pick firm leaves with sturdy, moist stems. Swiss chard can be thrown into soups and stews, pastas, and sautéed with a little garlic and olive for an easy side dish. Always cook the stems for a few minutes before adding the leaves as the stems need a few extra minutes.