A fresh-tasting vegetarian pasta recipe with mushrooms and Swiss chard in a garlic and lemon creamy sauce. Mushroom and chard pasta really hits the spot when you need an easy-speedy yet delicious weeknight supper.
Chard is a leafy green and belongs in the same family as beetroot and spinach, the Amaranthaceae.
In the UK it’s generally referred to as Swiss chard, but in other parts of the world it’s also known as silverbeet. In essence it’s a form of beetroot, grown for its leaves rather than roots. This type of chard has long thick white stalks and dark green leaves. However, chard comes in many forms; dark red stemmed ruby chard is quite common and rainbow chard is particularly popular for its kaleidoscopic coloured range.
Green leafy veg have a whole range of health benefits and chard is no exception. It’s a notably good source of vitamins A, C, E and K. It’s also high in calcium, magnesium and iron as well as various antioxidants. Just one Swiss chard leaf is said to contain all of your daily vitamin K requirements.
If you’re interested in growing your own veg, chard, whether that be Swiss, ruby or rainbow, is one of the easiest greens to grow here in the UK. It’s one of the vegetables we’ve grown successfully year on year. But the trouble often comes when it’s time to harvest. How do you cook and eat chard is one of the questions I hear over and over again.
How Do You Eat Chard?
Well the answer to that is that you can use chard in most recipes where spinach is called for. It has a similar taste and texture.
Chard comes in two parts. You have the long crunchy stalks and the green leafy tops. Whilst the tops aren’t quite as tender as spinach, they don’t need a lot of time to cook. The stalks, on the other hand, need a bit longer. So when you’re cooking chard as a spinach substitute, thinly slice the stalks and start cooking them a few minutes before you add the greens.
Here are a few recipes that you can use chard in:
- Corn chard polenta triangles (vegan)
- Spiced parsnip spinach soup (vegan)
- Spinach chickpea curry (vegan)
- Squash, chilli, chard & feta pasties
What Can You Use Instead of Chard?
As already mentioned, the most obvious substitute for chard is spinach. The two are more or less interchangeable. But for many recipes pak choi is a good bet too. It has a similar appearance with the same crunchy stalks and mild flavour.
Otherwise, you can use turnip tops, beetroot leaves, mustard greens or spring cabbage. These all have similarly tender leaves. At a push, you could try kale, but the leaves are tougher and require longer cooking times.
I’m a big fan of edible mushrooms, they’re so full of savoury flavour. They’re also quite robust and absorb other flavours really well. We have plenty to choose from here in the UK. Even shiitake mushrooms are now grown all over the country. Something that was unheard of in my youth.
Mushrooms are a great source of soluble fibre, protein, selenium, B vitamins and potassium. They’re also low in calories, being completely fat-free. If you put them out in the sunlight, they can even absorb vitamin D.
Pretty much any mushrooms work well in this dish. I tend to use whatever I can get my hands on. Sometimes this even runs to foraged mushrooms, which is an especial treat. It’s useful having a botanist in the family for sure.
For preference I like a mix of chestnut and umami-rich shiitake mushrooms.
How To Clean Mushrooms
The quickest and easiest way to clean cultivated mushrooms is with a soft brush. Just flick the brush over the tops and stalks to remove any bit of compost etc that might be clinging on. You absolutely don’t need to peel them.
Alternatively you can wipe the tops with a damp cloth. I find this method a bit fiddly and it doesn’t work terribly well with stalks. Don’t throw the stalks away, they can be used just as you do the caps. I usually trim off the ends though as they’re often either a bit grubby or have dried out.
Although all the advice goes against it, if my mushrooms are picked from the wild or look particularly grubby, I rinse them, one by one under the tap. Mushrooms absorb water like a sponge and for most recipes you don’t want mushy mushrooms. However, if you’re quick and leave the mushrooms to drain properly on a clean dry surface, I don’t find this a problem.
From time to time, I like to show a bit of support to British companies that I feel are doing the right thing. I don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like as money is tight and ethical companies, by their very nature, tend to produce products that cost more than mass produced ones.
Anyway, last month, I decided to order some homegrown British foods from Hodmedod’s. You can find out about this fabulous company in this Hodmedod’s post I published a while back when they sent me some of their products to try.
One of the new products I spotted was organic fusilli pasta made with wholemeal spelt flour. Wow, homegrown UK pasta. Who’d have thought it? The upshot was that I ended up ordering a whole sack of it.
Mushroom and Chard Pasta Sauce
This mushroom and chard pasta is really tasty. There’s lemon for freshness, garlic, thyme and nutmeg for flavour and butter and cream for richness. I also add a dash of tamari soy sauce because it really brings out the mushroom’s umami notes.
Once you’ve cleaned your mushrooms and rinsed the chard, it’s mostly a case of getting your knife out and chopping. There’s a bit of stirring to do too, but not much.
Some of the prep can be done whilst the mushrooms are cooking. Basically you should be able to get this mushroom and chard pasta on the table within twenty minutes.
The Swiss chard stalks take longer to cook than the leaves, so you need to get those in the pot first. They should be soft, but not disintegrated when you serve up the sauce. You can add the chopped leaves not long before you’re ready to serve. They’ll take about four minutes or so to soften.
Once the sauce has finished cooking and you’ve turned the heat off, check for seasoning and add a little more salt, tamari or pepper if you feel it needs any of these. Finally, squeeze in a little of the juice from the half lemon. Stir, taste and add a little more as required.
Serve over wholewheat fusilli pasta and top with a good grating of vegetarian Italian hard cheese. Having said that, I’ve been using my vegan ‘parmesan’ cheese instead lately. It does the job almost as well and cuts down on the dairy in a dish that already has butter and cream.
Mushroom and Chard Pasta: Top Tips
The key to this dish is to ensure that the garlic and mushrooms are chopped and ready to go before you begin cooking. You can chop the chard up whilst the mushrooms are sizzling.
Start heating the water for your pasta at the same time as you heat up the oil for the garlic and the two should be ready at the same time.
Add a dash of soy sauce to enhance the umami flavour in the mushrooms. It works exceptionally well.
Use whatever pasta you like, but I highly recommend wholewheat fusilli as the best one to pick up all that creamy mushroom goodness.
If you have it, a good sprinkling of finely chopped parsley is lovely to go over the top as well as a good grating of cheese.
Other Mushroom Recipes You Might Like
- Chetna’s mushroom curry
- Dried mushroom risotto
- Mushroom tart
- Slow cooker vegetable stew with mushroom dumplings (vegan)
- Vegetarian sausage rolls with mushrooms & chestnuts
- Walnut & mushroom pâté (vegan)
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this easy mushroom and chard pasta, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And do please rate the recipe. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
If you’d like more pasta recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious, of course.
Mushroom and Chard Pasta. PIN IT.
Mushroom and Chard Pasta Sauce – The Recipe
Mushroom and Chard Pasta
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
- 4-6 sprigs thyme
- 250 g mushrooms – wiped and roughly chopped (I used half chestnut and half shiitake)
- 25 g unsalted butter
- 250 g Swiss chard
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp tamari or your favourite soy sauce
- 120 ml double cream
- ⅛ tsp grated nutmeg
- a good grinding of black pepper
- ½ lemon – zest and juice
- 160 g dried wholemeal pasta – cooked as per pack instructions
- grated Italian hard cheese or vegan 'parmesan' to serve. optional
- Heat the oil in a large pan over a moderate high heat for a minute or two. As soon as it’s hot, throw in the garlic and thyme.
- Stir fry for thirty seconds, then toss in the mushrooms.
- Stir-fry the mushrooms for two minutes, then add the butter and fry for another minute.
- Whilst the mushrooms are frying, thinly slice the chard stalks and roughly chop the leafy tops.
- Add the stalk slices and salt to the mushrooms. Stir, then clamp the lid on the pan, lower the heat and allow to simmer for four minutes.
- Add the chopped leaves along with the tamari, place the lid back on the pan and cook for a further four minutes.
- Pour in the cream, add the nutmeg and lemon zest, stir and let it cook with the lid on for a couple of minutes.
- Turn the heat off, check for seasoning and add a little more salt, tamari or pepper if you feel it needs it. Squeeze in a little of the juice from the half lemon. Stir, taste and add a little more if you feel it needs it.
- Serve over pasta with a good grating of Italian hard cheese or my vegan 'parmesan' cheese.
I’m sharing this recipe for easy mushroom and chard pasta with Sew White for #CookBlogShare.