Monday, August 31, 2009

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard, although readily available at farmers markets and grocery stores, is often avoided or overlooked by many people. And I will admit, it is very...different looking than most other leafy greens. Once I conquered my own reservations, I learned to love and appreciate this unique green and quickly made it one of my staple foods. Swiss chard is just as versatile as any other green such as kale, spinach, and collard greens, and can be used interchangeably with them in any recipe. Chard, however, has a more peppery, buttery, earthy flavor than these other greens, so it is important not to over-flavor them while cooking so you don't miss out on the flavors it naturally has. Below are some of my favorite recipes, but as always, you can never go wrong with some of your own experimenting. Happy cooking!

Simple Swiss Chard Saute

1 bunch swiss chard, chopped
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
dried crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper to add heat (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Directions: heat olive oil in large skillet. If using chopped chard stems, add them to oil and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the chard greens, garlic, salt and pepper, and dried red pepper and continue to saute until the greens begin to wilt. Add soy sauce once the chard has wilted.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Pecorino Cheese
courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis,

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs. swiss chard, trimmed and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-0z. can diced tomatoes with juices
1/4 cup white cooking wine
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon Pecorino cheese, grated
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Directions: Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the chard and saute until it wilts, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, wine, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the tomatoes begin to break down and the chard is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Season the chard mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the spaghetti. Add the spaghetti to the chard mixture and toss to combine. Transfer the pasta to serving bowls. Sprinkle the olives, cheese, and pine nuts and serve.

the many colors of Swiss chard

This final recipe is a little more time consuming, but is absolutely delicious and is a very different and refreshing way of serving and eating leafy greens. If you have some extra time, give it a try!

White Pizza with Indian Spiced Greens
courtesy of Sharon Sperber,

1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large bunch Swiss Chard, stems removed
1 bunch mustard or any other greens, coarsely chopped
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
1 16-oz. container store-bought pizza dough (or make your own!)
olive oil, for grill
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, shredded
3/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup crumbled paneer

Directions: Preheat the grill to 400 degrees F. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Saute the garlic for 1 minute. Add in the greens and saute until wilted. Add in the curry powder and continue to cook the greens until they start to get soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cut the dough into 2 (8-ounce) pieces. Stretch the dough out on a lightly floured surface with your hands. When the grill is at a consistent 400 to 450 degrees F (no hotter than 450), lightly brush the grill with olive oil. Place dough directly onto the grill surface. Close the grill cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. About 2 minutes in, open the grill and pop the air bubbles with a fork. The bottom should be brown with some charred spots but not burned or underdone. Close lid and continue cooking. Remove from grill and place on a work surface with the cooked/grilled side up. Lower the heat on the grill to medium-low heat so that the cheese has time to melt and the bottom does not burn.

Spread equal amounts of the mozzarella and fontina on each pizza. Divide the cooked greens on top of the cheese. Place a few dollops of crumbled goat cheese over the top of the greens, then sprinkle with the crumbled paneer.

Lightly oil grill once more and carefully place pizzas, cheese side up, onto the grill. Close the lid and let it cook slowly for another 5 to 10 minutes to allow the cheese to melt and so that the bottom does not burn. When the cheese is completely melted and the bottom is a nice even brown with some charred spots, remove from the grill to a cutting board, slice and serve.

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