Penne & Bowties with Goat Cheese & Swiss Chard

Few things excite me as much as goat cheese, wine, and fresh (really fresh) produce – that is, except for local and sustainable goat cheese, wine, and fresh produce!  Hey, now - remember, FitCakes is a judge-free zone…

Yep.  I love fresh, yummy food.  What’s not to like?  Clearly, that whole concept is my thang

That’s one of the many great reasons – okay, a major reason – that I have plans to go to Napa Valley this summer.  Places that reek of local-foodie-madness attract me like a nerd to alien-spaceship beam.

That’s also the reason I had to go to our recent “Viva la Local” food festival.  The weekly farmer’s market-turned-local-nirvana offered a ton of Tucson’s own restaurant’s foods, as well as regional produce, beers, wines, cheeses, not to mention mushrooms and other such goodies.


Besides a slight sunburn, I picked up a couple blocks of goat cheese – have I already expressed how much I love goat cheese? – and some meat, mushrooms, and various forms of veggies.

And, when I got home I felt really needed to make use of this fresh stuff, and in its freshest of states.  Like, immediately.  So this happened, and it was magnificent.  Why is it that I don’t have that urge right after a trip to the supermarket?  Is it that, hey, it’s probably already ten days old, what difference will two more make?  Maybe.  Probably.  Anyway.

A mixture of half whole wheat, half white pasta makes a good way to transition to all whole wheat pasta.  If you’re already there, we go all in with 100% whole wheat.  Covered in creamy, tangy goat cheese, some garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, and the absolutely gorgeous Swiss chard, topped off with a bit of delectably spiced sausage, and it’s a 4-star restaurant meal.

Even better if you know where it came from and how fresh it all is!

Penne & Bowties with Goat Cheese & Swiss Chard

4 oz dried whole wheat bowtie pasta

4 oz dried enriched penne pasta (whole wheat, too, if you like)

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 long spicy turkey or chicken sausage links, (about 8” each) chopped

½ small yellow onion, finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 large leaves Swiss chard, thinly sliced

About 1 cup of your favorite mushrooms, chopped

1 medium red tomato (about 4” in diameter), diced

5 oz goat cheese

Boil the pastas according to the package directions in well-salted water.  Reserve a cup of pasta water and drain the rest from the pasta.  Without rinsing, transfer the pasta to a large bowl and toss with the olive oil.

Cook the chopped sausage over medium heat, using cooking spray if necessary, until cooked all the way through.  Transfer to the bowl of pasta.

In the same hot pan, sauté the onion with a pinch of salt over medium heat using cooking spray, until slightly translucent, about 2 minutes or so.  Add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes.  Add chard, tomatoes, and and mushrooms and sauté until they are just softened and the chard is bright green.

Toss the onion mixture with the pasta and crumble the goat cheese on top.  Mix everything together until the goat cheese melts and coats the pasta.  Add reserved pasta water one tablespoon at a time until the goat cheese becomes a thick sauce on the pasta.  (I usually only want about two tablespoons of the water.)

My healthy serving suggestion:  Serve a cup of pasta in a small bowl, accompanied by a large chopped salad with balsamic vinegar and spices instead of dressing, a large glass of iced lemon water, and a small (5 oz) glass of red wine!