It’s the first week of March and the weather has taken a decided turn towards spring here in Wisconsin. What that means exactly is that the thermometer has finally risen above freezing. I’m not getting my hopes too high yet, as there is still a very good chance for, at least, 1 or 2 more good snows, and even the possibility of a late winter, early spring blizzard, but there’s something in the air. I can feel it, and it is Spring.

If you’ve been following my writings for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m not one of these people that hates winter. In fact, I rather enjoy winter, though there are things about it I don’t like, such as driving 30 minutes to work on snow covered roads. I’m someone who loves all the seasons, although I have to admit that fall is by far my favorite. For me, autumn is the only season with no drawbacks. Winter, spring, and summer all have their positives, but they also have their downsides. Spring is starts off muddy, rainy and dreary, Summer can get too hot and humid, while Winter can get too cold and the snow can be a danger, at times, but I wouldn’t give up any of them.

I always look forward to the change in seasons and this year, I have to admit, I”m really ready for spring. It’s a gamble though, in Wisconsin, as to when spring will really arrive. Some years it can be as early as mid March and in others as late as late April or early May. It’s always a crap shoot, but I’m hoping for an early spring this year.

Today’s dish is a quick pasta, that can pretty much be done in the time it takes to bring water to a boil and cook your pasta. Something you’ll hear from me quite often is that good food doesn’t always have to take lots of time. Don’t worry, I’m not turning Rachel Ray on you, but I do think that there are plenty of wonderful dishes out there that take very little time.

This pasta, while short on cooking time, doesn’t skimp on flavor. Paired with a salad, some garlic bread and a glass of wine, this dish is a perfect late winter dinner, both when time is short and when you want to impress.

Farfalle with Red Chard and Chicken
-the amounts are for 1 serving, but this dish easily scales to just about any number of servings

4 oz. farfalle pasta
6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2-3 oz. Cremini mushrooms
1 cup chard (Swiss, red, rainbow your choice)
1/2 shallot
1 clove garlic
3/4 Tbsp. rosemary, fresh
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated

Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, mince the garlic and the shallot. Chop and rinse the chard, stems included and finely chop the rosemary. Add the pasta to the boiling water. Preheat a large skillet and add the olive oil. While the skillet is heating dice the chicken breast. Add to the hot skillet and season. While chicken is cooking slice the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms when the chicken is 3/4s of the way done. Saute until the mushrooms start to wilt then add the garlic and shallots. Continue to saute for 4 minutes longer then add the chard. Toss a couple of times then add the wine and rosemary. When pasta is done (about 11 minutes cooking time depending on brand) drain, reserving a couple of tablespoons of cooking water. Add pasta to the skillet,then add the butter and Parmesan. Remove from heat and toss and stir until the butter and Parmesan have melted into the remaining liquid to make a smooth creamy sauce. The pasta should be lightly coated with the sauce. If a little too dry add a tablespoon or 2 of the pasta cooking liquid. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.