Chary of chard
I am seeking healthy preparations of those highly-recommended "green, leafy vegetables" (i.e., no slow cooking in rendered bacon fat). I've hard great chard dishes in Italian restaurants but can't seem to replicate at home. Any suggestions appreciated.
My ex, of Armenian extraction, introduced me to the wonderfulness of chard and lentil soup...which is simply lentil soup that gets chopped-up chard added for the last hour or so of simmering, and a good send-off of fresh lemon juice in the bowl. It can be either vegetarian or carnivorous, heavy on other veges (chopped carrot, celery, potato) or not. The lovely part is how the earthiness of both lentils and chard intermingle and enhance each other. My favorite combination is lentils, chard, celery, carrot, onion, and kielbasa or lamb sausage.
When I can get it, I chop rainbow chard and par-boil in a little chicken stock. Once the chard is softened, I add some olive oil, some sea salt, lemon zest and a big squeeze of lemon juice.
Once prepared, I either serve it alongside roasted chicken and couscous, or I mix it into some orzo that I prepare and dress with olive oil, parsley and maybe more lemon zest.
I've recently fallen in love with chard. I've been making a great chard/feta cheese/sundried tomato pasta that I've fallen in love with, and recently realized that the base is great even without the pasta. What I do is take a bunch of chard (rainbow is great for this because it turns the pasta a nice color), cut off the stems and ribs, and chop them and the leaves up (keeping them seperate). Put some olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom) in a big skillet, with some garlic and red pepper flakes, then add the stems and some water and cover. Simmer for about five minutes, then add the leaves and more water, cover again for about three minutes. If I'm doing this with pasta (usually penne or something of that shape), I put the pasta in to cook right when I put the chard in, and then it's ready to toss into the skillet when the chard is about ready. Then I add feta, chopped sun dried tomatoes, and some grated pecorino and salt and pepper, and toss it all together. The flavors all work well together, and I recently just ate a big bowl of the chard and feta and sun dried tomatoes for dinner.
Like a lot of greens chard does best if it is parboiled (the ribs can turn grey if you steam or sometimes saute) - boil until just barely tender in salted water to cover - you can then drain and dress with olive oil and some fresh lemon juice.
If the stems are thick, its good to pull off some of the strings, separate from the green part, cut up the stems into bitsized pieces and cook a couple minutes longer than the greens.
As an alternative to immediately dressing the cooked greens, you can shock them cooked greens in cold water, press and drain out all the water and then saute briefly with olive oil and garlic to finish.
chard is a great minestrone ingredient - the ribs never lose their crispness.
Korean-ish style: shred and and boil the chard -- put the stems in, cook about 3 miinutes, then the leaves for 5 minutes more. Drain, refresh in cold water, and squeeze dry. Mix sesame oil, white sugar, salt and cayenne or korean red pepper in a serving bowl. Add chard and stir well.
I made this tonight. I sauteed 2 cloves of minced garlic in 2-3 tbsps of olive oil then added 1/2 cup of pine nuts, sauteed a bit more. Added about 6-7 cups of parboiled, drained, chopped swiss chard to the skillet, as well as about 3/4 cup of raisins that had been soaked in warm water for 5 minutes. Sauteed for about 5 minutes. Sprinkled with salt and pepper.
I love greens in a frittata.
They're also great as stuffing for strudels and calzones, both of which can be made healthy.
Cook onions until soft, then add the greens and whatever seasoning you like. Toss in some toasted pine nuts. For a strudel, layer phyllo dough sprayed with cooking spray, put the greens in the middle and wrap. For a calzone, use pizza dough instead. Bake until the dough is done and the filling is hot.
Here's an Italian Recipe for Baked Chard It's Good!!!
BAKED SWISS CHARD
1 large bunch Swiss chard
3/4-cup olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 eggs, beaten
a few twists of the pepper mill
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 Cup Unseasoned breadcrumb
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Remove die white stalks from the bottom of the chard and reserve for another use. Wash and shred the leaves. Place in a deep pot with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, covered, over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring often. (No additional water is needed, as the chard will cook with whatever is clinging to the leaves.) Transfer to a strainer and squeeze dry. In a deep skillet, add the oil, heat over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until wilted and about to turn color. Add the parsley, garlic, chard, and the mushrooms, and cook 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl and cool. You can do this quickly by stirring the mixture in the bowl constantly for a few Minutes. Add the eggs, Parmesan cheese, the remaining 1/2-teaspoon salt and the fresh milled pepper. Oil a baking dish, just large enough to hold the chard. Sprinkle a light layer of breadcrumb into the bottom of the dish. Transfer the chard to the baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumb and bake, Uncovered, about 20 minutes. Serve hot
LOL!! I'm Feelin' Ya!!! I really only make this for special meals. Its not an every day thing. You could try it with less but I have to say that you really don't know it has that much olive oil in it. The chard really absorbs it. If you try it with that much less it will probably be on the dry side. But it would seem worth a try. By the way it is excellent with roasted meats OR a rich pasta dish such as Lasagna or Ravioli.
A variation on the above method: soften some thinly sliced onion in the olive oil for a few minutes, then proceed as above. If you rinse the chard under the tap and *don't* dry it off but just put it into the pan with whatever water is still clinging to it, that plus the onions may give off enough liquid (in a covered pan) so you can omit the stock.
I saute chard in olive oil with a little lemon juice, a little broth, and a lot of garlic. If you are cooking the stems, those should go in before the leaves, which obviously cook much faster. I've never thought of chard as a tricky vegetable to prepare, but perhaps I've never had it prepared the way you have experienced in Italian restaurants.