‘Green Mountain Trail Run’ Orecchiette with Ricotta and Chard

Green Mountain Trail Run.

Green Mountain Trail Run. Image by author.

Located on Green Mountain, William Frederick Hayden Park (WFHP) is the second largest park in Lakewood, Colorado. For those of you less familiar with the Denver area, Lakewood serves as a major suburb just west of downtown and has seen a significant increase in residents as folks take advantage of the newest RTD light rail line that transports people who live as far as Golden, Colorado, to and from downtown Denver. If Lakewood wasn’t on the opposite side of the city from where Cameron works, we likely would have purchased a home out there so we could live even closer to the foothills.

As it is, when Cameron and I want to get in a trail run with wide-open views of the mountains and an arid landscape similar to Evans Canyon, one of our favorite trails in Reno where we met, we’ll hop in the car and make our way northwest about 20 minutes to Green Mountain and take to the trails. WFHP consists of 2,400 acres of open space, and I have explored just a fraction of the area during our runs, in large part, because the hill trails are nothing to sniff about. With terrain that rises and falls frequently, I end up with a heart-pounding work-out that leaves me breathless and drunk on the views.

CCN Green Mountain Trail Run.

Green Mountain Trail Run.

I’m hoping to take our furry friend Charlotte for many long hikes in the hills this fall. Beyond the rare obnoxious mountain biker (most have been very considerate in sharing the trail!), I almost always feel as if there’s enough space for everyone who heads out for the hills for recreation. As always, if you take your dog, please leash him or her to prevent any accidents on the trail.

Green Mountain Trail Run.

Green Mountain Trail Run. Image by author.

Yesterday morning Cameron and I took a break from our respective weekend work and got in a 4 1/2-mile run. Usually we avoid open spaces between 10am and 5pm during the summer because the sun can be intense and the heat less conducive to exercise when there’s little tree cover, but the weather was cool and sunny so we had a good work-out without heat stroke. Still, I slathered on the sunblock and kept my head covered with a running cap to protect my sunburn-prone skin.

After the run, I wanted an unfussy lunch that wouldn’t involve much prep so that I could focus on novel revision in the afternoon. Below you’ll find the results of a one-bowl recipe that took less than 30 minutes to prep and cook. Some of the recipes in Sarah Copeland’s cookbook Feast take time to complete, but she’s also included numerous recipes that can be pulled together quickly so you can eat well without slaving over a pot for hours.

We had all the ingredients for her Oriecchiette with Chard and Ricotta recipe, so I set to work prepping the greens and pasta. It’s simple fare but gives you carbs balanced with protein (if you eat dairy products.) The cheeses make the recipe, so dollop that ricotta generously over the pasta. You won’t be disappointed.

Oriecchiette with Chard and Ricotta

Image by author.

Orecchiette with Ricotta and Chard
(adapted from a Sarah Copeland Feast recipe)
Serves 4

Ingredients
– 1 large bunch chard

- 12 oz orecchiette

- 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil

- 2 TBS unsalted butter

- Pinch of red pepper flakes

- 2 oz freshly grated ricotta salata, Asiago, or pecorino cheese, plus more for serving (I used pecorino since it was on sale this week.)

- Freshly ground black pepper

- Freshly ground nutmeg for sprinkling (I used regular ground nutmeg since it’s cheaper and always on hand.)

- Fresh ricotta cheese for dolloping

- Fleur de sel (I just used regular sea salt, and it tasted fine.)

Directions
1. Bring a large pot 3/4 full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, separate the chard stems from the leaves and cut both into bite-size pieces. Add the orecchiette to the boiling water and set the timer to 10 minutes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chard stems and cook until tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, add the chard leaves to the boiling pasta water and cook for 2 minutes more.

3. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid for the sauce. Put the pasta and chard back in the pot over low heat.

4. Add the chard stems and residual oil, along with the butter, red pepper flakes (if using), and the reserved pasta cooking liquid, 1 TBS at a time, to bring it all together.

5. Add the ricotta salata, and toss with pasta. Season with black pepper and sprinkle with nutmeg (if using).

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