Date Night Dinner: The Full-Flavored Pasta Recipe to Make Tonight

Source: Alexandra Shytsman, Natural Gourmet Institute

Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean spending a ton of money. And it also doesn’t have to mean spending a ton of time in the kitchen. In this week’s installment of Date Night Dinner, a weekly column focusing on simple-to-prepare and flavorful dinners that will impress your partner (or any guest, for that matter), New York City’s Natural Gourmet Institute shares a fantastic pasta recipe that is sure to become a staple in your household.

Pasta’s always a crowd-pleaser, but in this vegetarian dish featuring savory “bacon” compost from shiitake mushrooms, cheesy goodness from grated Parmesan and ricotta cheese, and a vibrant hit of green from Swiss chard, it’s truly elevated to well, awesome-sauce status. In this recipe, Natural Gourmet Institute recommends using whole wheat angel hair pasta, but you can also experiment with shapes; bow ties and wagon wheels also work nice here.

When it comes to mix-ins, this pasta is also ripe for variations. Swapping Swiss chard for kale or another dark, leafy green will work just fine. We also love adding caramelized onions for more flavor and topping with almond slivers for a bit of added crunch. Get creative with your partner, and experiment until you stumble upon a standard pasta date night recipe you love.

Are you nervous that pasta may be a little indulgent and not all that good for you? Think again. Check out our story, “Is Pasta Unhealthy? 5 Myths About Pasta Revealed.” Consider us that friendly sous chef you always wish you had around the kitchen.

Pasta with Swiss Chard, Ricotta, and Shiitake “Bacon”

This recipe from Natural Gourmet Institute yields 4 servings.


  • ½ pound shiitake mushrooms, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, tough stems removed
  • ½ pound whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • ⅓ cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. On a large baking sheet, toss mushrooms with olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Bake until crisp, stirring once, about 20 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Prepare a large bowl of ice water; set aside. Add Swiss chard to boiling water, and cook until softened but still vibrant green, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer Swiss chard to ice bath (reserving pot of boiling water for cooking pasta). When cool enough to handle, roughly chop Swiss chard; set aside. Add pasta to boiling water, and cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water and drain pasta. Return pasta to pot, and add shiitake bacon, Swiss chard, ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest, and some of the reserved pasta water. Stir to combine; if pasta seems dry, add more pasta water. Taste, and season with salt, if needed.

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