Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable often overlooked in the grocery store, says Easter H. Tucker of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.


The vegetable is worth cooking with, however, for both its taste and wide range of health benefits, said Tucker, UAPB’s interim family and consumer sciences program leader.


“Though people usually reach for spinach or kale in the produce aisle, Swiss chard is packed with vitamins and minerals,” she said. “The vegetable contains an abundance of antioxidants and is low in calories.”


Tucker said Arkansans can test out the versatility of Swiss chard by cooking the recipe for Penne pasta served with stewed tomatoes and Swiss chard, which was featured in the “Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook for Homes.”


Oodles of Noodles


Ingredients: 2 3/4 cups Penne pasta, whole-wheat, dry (11 oz), 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 1/4 cups fresh grape tomatoes, halved; 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced, 3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour, 2 1/3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, 4 cups fresh Swiss chard, stems removed, chopped.


Directions: In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Gradually stir in pasta and return to a boil. Cook uncovered for about 8-10 minutes until tender. Do not overcook. Drain well.


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of tomatoes and cook 2-3 minutes until skins soften. Do not overcook. Reserve remaining tomatoes for step 4. Add basil, salt, pepper and garlic. Stir.


Sprinkle flour over tomatoes. Cook for 30 seconds over medium heat until mixture becomes thick. Add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce to low heat.


Add Swiss chard and remaining tomatoes. Simmer uncovered over low heat for 1-2 minutes or until Swiss chard is wilted. Pour over pasta. Serve hot.