Thursday, March 18, 2010

Recipe: How to cook delicious chard (really!)

One of the things that bugs me about most dietitians and nutritionists is that they tell you what to eat that's healthy (more kale! more legumes!) but rarely tell you how to cook it well so that you (and your family) WANTS to eat them.  So they don't make the weekly grocery list.

Eating greens is an easy way to eat healthily, and this delicious chard recipe is easy to make -- bonus! Chard is a mild-tasting green (not as strong or bitter as kale), and a good one to start with if you don't usually eat them. You get a food that's nutritionally dense, full of good dietary fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals.  Sounds miserable, right?  Wrong!  Done right, you can get both your nutrition and good taste in one place!

This recipe is from the wonderful Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook, my go-to book I crack open the minute I come back from the farmer's market.  While it's written for chard (also known as swiss chard), this technique can be used for most greens such as turnip, mustard and beet greens.  For kale and collards, you need a little sugar to balance out the bitterness of the greens.

A few prep notes:

WASHING. Be sure to wash your greens thoroughly.  There's nothing more unpleasant than getting a mouthful of dirt or grit from your veggies.  The best way to do this is to fill your sink with cold water, throw in all your greens loosely, then agitate them well to get all the dirt out of the nooks and crannies, letting gravity do the work for you.  Pull out the greens, set them aside, then drain the sink and fill it with water and repeat.  Two rounds of rinsing usually does it, but look to see if any more dirt settles to the bottom or not.  If you see dirt, rinse again.

DE-RIBBING.  Loosely fold the leaf in half along the stem, then grasp the leaf with your other hand and strip the leaves from the ribs.  This will go quickly when you get the hang of it.  You can wrap the leaves in paper towels and into a plastic bag and keep them in the refrigerator for a few hours ahead if you like.

CHIFFONADE: this term is a cutting technique.  Roll the leaves into a loose roll (like a sushi roll), then slice the roll thinly to create shreds.

Braised Chard from Chez Panisse Vegetables
by Alice Waters

2-3 servings

Separate the leaves and ribs of a large very fresh bunch of red or green chard.  Wash, drain, and cut the leaves into a rough chiffonade.  Slice a large sweet onion, and start stewing it in some olive oil in a pot large enough to hold all of the chard leaves.  After the onion softens, add the chard leaves, season with salt and pepper, cover, and stew for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every so often.  (My note: add a little water if the greens stick to the pan.) Although additions such as garlic, pancetta or lemon can be made, the chief virtues of chard cooked this way are its own sweet flavor and a meltingly tender texture.

I eat these as a side dish, or with my eggs in the morning instead of spinach.  Enjoy.


Maggie said...

Sounds delish. What can you do with the chard ribs? Thanks!

Kathy said...

Great post. I never knew what to do with those things either. You've given us such a simple way to start eating them. I'm looking forward to trying them.

Kathy said...

Great post. I never knew what to do with those things either. You've given us such a simple way to start eating them. I'm looking forward to trying them.

Food Allergy Queen said...

Thanks, they are DELISH made this way, hope you like them! Maggie, the ribs are pretty tough, I would only reuse them in soup or compost, honestly. :)

Unknown said...

I have grown a great appreciate for chard, it is delicious! I've found that introducing it to people who haven't had it before can be difficult though, or even introducing yourself. If any of you are allowed bacon and chicken I like to season them up with just a bit of diced bacon and a gluten free chicken broth packet as well!