Recently many friends and family have told tales of how they pass up the familiar, choose to brave foreign climes and cut their way through thick vegetation in their quest to try new greens. Of all noble causes certainly this was one worth joining. I cinched up my safari hat and purchased Red Swiss Chard knowing only that my roommate, Beth, included it in a tasty potato chard frittata. My nerves ran slightly elevated buying an item I knew nothing about, not even its store label gave hint to the preparation.
Out of all the chard recipes I found these appealed to me because I could use both the plentiful leaves and stems — thrilling for its economy, its ecology and for saving me a trip out to my ill-kept compost bin.
Both recipes come from my first vegetable cookbook, Mediterranean Vegetables by Clifford A. Wright. Generally there are only two single food group themed cookbooks I am repeatedly tempted to buy…chocolate and vegetables. This cookbook includes such gardeny items as purslane and amaranth as well as the conventional sorts like eggplant. In my world Swiss chard falls just close enough to the purslane side to make it exotic.
You’ll notice that one calls for 2 pounds and the other calls for 1 pound. I had about half a bunch available to use (one bunch of Swiss chard became three very different recipes), but decided that meant both of these recipes needed to be cut in half. Weighing them at the store or with one of those kitchen scales widely available for purchase may have solved this conundrum, but adjusting seasonings to taste is also adventurous fun.
Málaga-Style Swiss Chard
2 pounds Swiss chard, stems removed, washed well and drained, do not dry
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Place Swiss chard in a large steamer over high heat without extra water. Cover and cook until wilted, 4-5 minutes. Alternatively, I placed them all in a skillet over medium heat, cover and wilted, turning occasionally. Drain well, squeezing out excess water. Chop coarsely.
In a large skillet or in the same skillet, mix together all the ingredients. Cook over medium-high heat until it begins to sizzle about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook about 15 minutes further. Serve immediately.
Swiss Chard Stalk and Tahini Dip
1 pound Swiss chard stalks
1 teaspoon salt
6 garlic cloves
½ cup tahini
½ cup lemon juice
Steam or boil Swiss chard in a pot of water until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well and chop roughly. In food processor, chop garlic then add Swiss chard. Continue to chop until smooth. Add salt. Add tahini. Add lemon juice. Done.