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Marissa Lingen

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Produce trio: rainbow chard [Aug. 18th, 2013|12:30 pm]
Marissa Lingen

I am a big fan of bitter greens salads, and I love spinach, but the heavier greens, kale and chard…not as much a fan, actually. I thought this post would be a much harder one than it is. Instead it nearly wrote itself. Hurrah go chard. Does this mean I will be buying a lot of chard from here on out? Well, no. I am not the only person eating in this house, and other people…are not as sold on chard as I am.

(Which is a good reminder: you do not have to like things. You are not less of a grown-up, less healthy, less responsible, whatever, if there is a particular type of food you don’t enjoy. You are not morally obligated to eat chard. Pretty much every form of food has nutrients that are also found in other foods. It’s good to be open-minded, but choking down food you hate is not the same thing as open-minded and wins you no good-kid points. End of aside; on to the chard.)

1. Charred chard (chard chips). Cut your chard off the central stalk of each leaf. You do not want that stalk really. Cut it into manageable pieces. Toss these pieces with either a tiny bit of olive oil and sea salt or a tiny bit of peanut oil and sugar, depending on which direction you want the taste to go. Bake on a foil-covered cookie sheet, 350 F for 30 minutes. The foil is important. You really want to be able to just dispose of any recalcitrant charred chard, rather than losing three nails and a finger scrubbing it off. This will be crispy and crunchy. Just eat it, it’s good.

2. Chard frittata. Again, cut the chard off the central stalk of each leaf. The word of the week is “chiffonade”: take those leaves and pile them up and roll them up, then cut into thin little strips. In an oven-safe skillet (or transfer to a different dish later, I guess), take a small amount of whatever fat you like for this sort of thing (anything from olive oil to butter to bacon fat will do) and cook up some garlic. Add the chard and saute until wilted. Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Pour a mixture of beaten eggs, a dollop of milk, and shredded manchego. Bake in a moderate oven until firm. (How many eggs will depend on what size your pan is and how much other stuff you have in it. I’ve done this sort of thing with up to a dozen eggs, which took about 40 minutes with the particular mix of vegetables I had in that frittata. That was a lot of egg. Probably you want fewer eggs than that.) (Oh, and “a moderate oven” is 350 F, usually.)

3. Brown butter solves everything. Do the same chiffonade stuff as above. Start a lump of butter melting in your skillet. Cook until it is fragrant and brown, stirring to keep the little browned butter bits circulating. (Five to seven minutes, maybe? But it’s totally worth the time.) Only once you have brown butter should you add the chard, and also some fresh sage if you have it. Wilt the chard. Add cooked whole wheat pasta (I used rotini, which worked great), dried sour cherries, toasted hazelnuts, and maybe some grated Asiago if you feel like it. Stir to coat. Eat. Feel smug.

Note for all of these: Chard cooks down. Like, a lot. So if you are not experienced with cooking greens, use more than you think you’ll want.


[User Picture]From: desperance
2013-08-18 05:57 pm (UTC)
you do not have to like things. You are not less of a grown-up, less healthy, less responsible, whatever, if there is a particular type of food you don’t enjoy. You are not morally obligated to eat chard.

Of course this is true, but it annoys me that it is true. I want to like chard! I feel immature that I do not, because yes, food dislikes are an artefact of childhood that have been pretty much left behind. And I like kale! And chicory! And bitter leaves in my salad! And, and, and. It's ... just chard, really.

But I note that you cut the stalks out, and it's the stalks I really don't like. I think I'm fine with the leaves. So this may be the way to go. Only I don't cut the stalks out of anything else, and the stalks are a major component of the plant, and and and...
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[User Picture]From: houseboatonstyx
2013-08-18 07:02 pm (UTC)
If the stalks are red (rainbow chard?) I like them raw, chopped fine, to garhish salads.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-18 07:47 pm (UTC)
I had stalks in red, dark red, yellow, and pale green.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-18 07:47 pm (UTC)
Stalks are a major part of the strawberry plant, too, but nobody sneers at you for not eating those.
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[User Picture]From: brooksmoses
2013-08-19 03:04 am (UTC)
I always cut the stalks out of the chard, even though I like them, because they cook very differently than the leaves. They're really sort of different ingredients. When I'm doing a simple sauteed chard, I cut the stalks out, chop them into relatively thin slices, and then cook them for a bit before adding the leaves.

Likewise with soups involving chard; the stalks and leaves get added at different times.
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[User Picture]From: sam_t
2013-08-19 11:00 am (UTC)
That's what I do, too: I treat them as a different vegetable (to the point of occasionally not using them in the same dish). I like the stalks fried slowly until very tender and browning slightly but the leaves only just wilted (slightly longer than I'd cook spinach leaves).

I am very fond of chard cooked in olive oil with a lot of sliced garlic and a few dried chilli flakes. I need to grow chard again. Mmmm.

I've heard that rainbow chard can be a bit less tasty than the plain green version but haven't really tested this myself.
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2013-08-18 07:50 pm (UTC)
Sauteed greens:

Tear chard (or whatever cooking greens you have) off the central stalk, and then into bite-sized pieces. Into a wok, put: several dollops of peanut oil (or olive oil or butter if you must, but something with flavor, not canola), 3 or 4 glugs of soy sauce, powdered ginger and garlic (yes, powdered, so it will coat the leaves evenly), chili powder to taste, and sesame seeds. You can also add in some chopped fresh garlic, onions, etc., if you want. Saute the greens in the wok until cooked but not too wilted, about 3 minutes.

This has gotten about 5 people who normally hate cooked greens to actively get excited when the CSA gives us cooking greens. They also make sad eyes at me whenever I suggest experimenting with other recipes, but the charred and brown butter versions look yummy enough that I may try anyway.
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[User Picture]From: houseboatonstyx
2013-08-18 09:29 pm (UTC)
For totally lazy but kinda like that, when I'm frying or sauteeing meat or fish, I put the torn-off greens in the open oily spaces in the pan. Swish them around every so often to mop up the drippings, cornmeal, whatever falls off the meat (and would otherwise stick to the pan).
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[User Picture]From: pameladean
2013-08-18 10:49 pm (UTC)
These really sound lovely. Well, except for the eggses, but I could get around that.

I usually have my chard with a huge amount of minced garlic, some chopped onion, olive oil, a bit of crushed red pepper, vegetable broth, and black-eyed peas. But branching out seems nice.

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[User Picture]From: rosefox
2013-08-18 11:19 pm (UTC)
You do not want that stalk really.

Nonsense! A good fresh chard stalk is like celery once it's been cooked. Braise it or throw it into soup.
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[User Picture]From: adrian_turtle
2013-08-18 11:58 pm (UTC)
When I am making fritatta, I start the stalks cooking several minutes before I put the leaves in.

And when I am making green soup (with sausage and white beans) the stalks go in while the onions are carmelizing. Then little bits of sausage and tomato and broth and canned (or already-cooked) beans and chiffonade of green leaves at the end.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-19 12:58 am (UTC)
I hate celery.
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[User Picture]From: klwilliams
2013-08-19 02:17 am (UTC)
Me, too. No flavor, icky texture.
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[User Picture]From: zelda888
2013-08-19 01:35 am (UTC)
What we do with kale is kale-n-carrot: Tear up the kale into pretty small pieces. Mix with an approximately equal volume of grated carrot. Top with a fairly sweet salad dressing; we always use Catalina.

There's still some chard left from the CSA; I'll have to try the frittata.
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From: sheff_dogs
2013-08-19 01:46 am (UTC)
Try the chard stalks in a gratin. Blanch stalks cut into bite sized pieces, but save that water. Put the stalks in your gratin dish. Chop an onion, saute in butter sprinkle on flour and cook a little then add half chard water and half milk, cook stirring from time to time until thickened then add a little strong cheese. Pour sauce over stalks, top with buttered bread crumbs if you have any handy and put in the oven until browned and bubbling. I usually add the green part too, but it's good either way, though if you do add the greens it's worth putting some potatoes in to bake while you prepare the gratin. Then you have a complete meal ready at the same time.

This may not be the precise recipe I use, but my dog is finally resing peacefully and I'd have to disturb him to get all the details. I think I probably add grated nutmeg to the sauce.

Incidentally unless you really want a smooth sauce softening onion first then adding the flour is a good way to get no lumps of flour in a white sauce and saves all the faff of flavouring the milk before making the sauce. I even chuck the bay leaf in while it's all thickening then fish it out before using.

Edited at 2013-08-19 01:51 am (UTC)
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From: sheff_dogs
2013-08-19 12:56 pm (UTC)
Right looked up the recipe, hold the nutmeg, but do add some pitted and chopped black olives. This really is a corker!

Hmmmn should be sowing chard to over winter about now ...

Edited at 2013-08-19 12:58 pm (UTC)
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From: diatryma
2013-08-19 02:19 am (UTC)
Might you do one of these for zucchini? My roommate likes it but never knows what to do with it.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-19 02:21 am (UTC)
I will add it to the list.
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From: zwol
2013-08-19 03:30 pm (UTC)
The word of the week is “chiffonade”: take those leaves and pile them up and roll them up, then cut into thin little strips.


Madam, you have just saved me several minutes' effort the next time I need to make thin little strips out of greens. I salute you.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-19 03:46 pm (UTC)
Chiffonades are seriously magic.
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