Cooking for teenage boys usually means a “meat-and-cheese” menu most nights of the week. But the more I research healthy eating habits, the more I realize that our bodies just don’t need as much meat as we might be used to eating. Now, I love a good, juicy steak as much as anyone, but I’m also committed to making sure my family learns to enjoy healthy eating habits.
The first time I made this, I didn’t tell the boys it was made with Swiss chard, simply because it would just have brought a chorus of, “I don’t eat that!” They had never eaten Swiss chard before, and I like to serve them new foods before telling them what it is. Somehow I usually have more success this way!
As far as serving whole-wheat pasta instead of plain white pasta, the most noticeable differences are in texture – not taste. It took me a few times (like brown rice over white rice) to get my sons to start liking the heavier “tooth feel” of whole-wheat pasta, but now it’s all I buy and they love it. It also seems to keep them full for longer periods of time, which is a huge thing when it comes to feeding growing teenagers!
Whole-Wheat Fettuccine with Chard and White Beans
12 oz whole-wheat fettuccine
2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
2 bunches Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (15.5 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt, to taste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down and release their juices, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chard stems and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the chard leaves, cannellini beans, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the red pepper, and cook, stirring until the chard leaves are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Divide the cooked pasta among individual bowls and top with the chard mixture and parmesan.