This dish is on regular rotation in my house, especially on nights when we don’t think we have much on hand to prepare and eat. It relies heavily on pantry staples, with the chard being the only fresh ingredient needed. Feel free to substitute the chard with cooked nettles, beet greens, mustard greens, turnip or kohlrabi greens, or a mixture of any and all.

Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar

  • ⅓ cup golden raisins

  • 2 bunches rainbow chard

    WNK-Misunderstood Vegetables Book Cover Misunderstood Vegetables: How to Fall in Love with Sunchokes, Rutabaga, Eggplant and More Becky Selengut
  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 onion, small diced

  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 cup seasoned rice vinegar (for pickling the chard stems, recipe below)

  • ¼ cup dry white vermouth (or white wine)

  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained

  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

  • 1 pound dried orecchiette

  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)


Bring water to a boil in a large soup pot. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt. In a small narrow jar, add the white wine vinegar to the raisins and stir. Set aside and set a timer for 15 minutes.

Remove the chard leaves from the stems as directed. Chop one--half of the stems into very fine slices (for pickling); the other one--half of the stems can be cut into ½--inch slices. Chop the leaves into bite--sized pieces. Drain the vinegar from the raisins and reserve the vinegar for salad dressings or other uses.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil. After a minute, add the onion along with ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the onion until it’s tender, about 10 minutes. Add the ½--inch sliced chard stems and the red pepper flakes and cook for 2 to 3 minutes (reserve the other half of the stems for pickling—-recipe on page 129). Add the chard leaves and sauté for a minute. Add the vermouth and deglaze the pan by scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan and incorporating them back into the onions. Add the reserved raisins, capers, and pine nuts and turn the heat to low.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette until it’s al dente. Strain through a colander (saving ½ cup of the cooking liquid) and add the pasta to the sauté pan, along with the reserved cooking liquid. Turn the heat to medium and cook for another minute or two, stirring to incorporate the sauce into the pasta. Add half of the cheese, mix, and season to taste. Serve the pasta garnished with the rest of the cheese. Sprinkle the pickled chard stems over the top.

Pickled chard stems

Yields 1½ to 2 cups

  • Stems from 1 bunch rainbow chard or any color of chard

  • 1 cup seasoned rice vinegar

If the stems are quite wide (wider than an inch), split the stems by cutting them down the length. Cut the stems crosswise into ¼--inch pieces. Place the cut stems in a mason jar or other narrow container. In a small pot, bring 1 cup of seasoned rice vinegar to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the stems. If it doesn’t quite cover the stems, add hot water until they are submerged under the liquid. Let the stems pickle in the vinegar for at least 30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator and use within a week or two. 

Excerpted from Misunderstood Vegetables by Becky Selengut, copyright © 2024, photography copyright © 2024 by Clare Barboza, reprinted by permission of Countryman Press, an imprint of W. W. Norton & Co., Inc. All rights reserved.

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