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Posted on Mon, May 21, 2012 : 8 a.m.

Pan-fried spaghetti with olives, tomatoes, and Swiss chard showcases farmers market finds

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

I had a fabulous time at the Dixboro Farmers' Market's opening day this past Friday! Vendors offered honey, both duck and chicken eggs, baked goods that disappeared so quickly I only got a sample of a pretzel despite arriving within the first hour, fresh greens, spring onions and potatoes, beeswax candles, organic nut butters, green garlic and other lovely items. Blessed by perfect sunny weather, crowds gathered, dogs greeted each other, people chatted and shopped, and a good time was had by all.

I bought Swiss chard with gorgeous, deep green leaves from Ferris Farm; I also bought organic green garlic from my friends Dick and Diana Dyer at Dick's Pretty Good Garlic stand. Green garlic resembles scallions — long green stems, with a white bulb and stringy roots — and is young garlic harvested before cloves form; its flavor is milder than that of the mature form. The Dyers have always sold their prized supply to restaurants, so to find them with several bunches was a surprise and a treat!  This would be the only week the treasure would be available, so I pounced.

After schmoozing, shopping, and sunburning a bit, I took my prizes home.  Needless to say, I put the bounty to use in my dinner that evening.

I took some cold spaghetti out of the refrigerator. This could have been baked into a casserole; it could also have been rejuvenated with boiling water, which would make it a bit too soft for my liking, and served with a standard boring ol' sauce. Instead, I turned it into a lovely, sophisticated dish.

Pan-frying the spaghetti slightly caramelizes the starches and gives the pasta a wonderful toasted flavor. Combining it with red pepper flakes, Kalamata olives, the beautiful Swiss chard, a sweet tomato, and the cherished green garlic transformed this basic leftover into a delicious meal to celebrate the end of the week.  A lovely glass of white wine was the perfect accompaniment.

The new market was wonderful, and it's off to an amazingly successful start!  I met old friends and new ones, and am looking so forward to this week's adventure, and the goodies I'll bring home to cook with next weekend.

Pan-Fried Spaghetti with Olives, Tomatoes, and Swiss Chard

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 stalks green garlic, chopped (or 2 large garlic cloves, minced)
3 cups pre-cooked whole wheat spaghetti, chilled, cut into 2-inch lengths
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 large leaves Swiss chard, cut into 3-inch strips
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Melt the oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the mixture just starts to bubble, add red pepper flakes, garlic, spaghetti, salt and pepper; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chard, olives and tomato; cook for 1 minute.

Divide among 2 serving plates and sprinkle with cheese.

Serves 2 generously.

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Mary Bilyeu writes about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions:

You should visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related.  And be sure to look for her monthly articles about holiday foods and traditions in the Washtenaw Jewish News.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.