Chard Is Beautiful But What Can You Do With It? - מנגולד יפה ,אבל מה לעשות עם העלים האלה?
Chard is bitter, some varieties more than others. I love bitter things but many people do not (Ken) and so I tend not to make it when there is just the two of us. But yesterday I waited a whole half hour to get in to the organic vegetables store - and only one person cut into the queue which must be a record - so I wanted to get as much produce as I could so that I wouldn't have to repeat that experience until next week.
I was taking my time which I am told is not a good idea in this corona climate, but recently I have been hurrying through the stores so quickly that I have come home with some less than passable items. I weighed the risks and stuck to my pace.
I was looking for garlic chives and some interesting salad greens when I spotted the rainbow chard. It was freshly washed and cleaned and sitting in a cold bowl of water (never seen this before in a store) and drawing attention to itself. I couldn't help but buy 5 large leaves.
I came home and re-washed them and put them in another bowl of cold water, like flowers, so I could enjoy the great colors . I removed a leaf with its bright red veins and took a picture and posted it on Facebook and Instagram. I could have left it at that but I also promised in the post to create a new recipe using the chard leaves.
Why do I do these things? Once I say them, I feel obligated to follow through which is a bit ridiculous since I have about 10 followers, none of which are likely to be heartbroken if I don't produce a new recipe. Never mind. I shouldn't go down that rabbit hole.
Well before I get to the recipe I want to respond to a comment on the chard leaf pic. Our cousin Lisa remarked that she grows rainbow chard in her garden and often has a seasonal bumper crop that needs eating - got any suggestions or any ideas?
Because chard is bitter and the taste is strong, it goes best with equally strong complementing flavors or combination of flavors (on the same principle as color wheels) - or with flavors that tame the bitterness but don't eliminate it. Sour things like lemon and vinegar are good choices or neutral, mild foods like tofu or ricotta or pasta. And of course, sweet things that may also be tart such as sour cherries, pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries. I've tried a lot of combinations. Here's a couple for you Lisa - and anyone else that wants to try them.
Thoroughly wash leaves. Chiffonade cut the leaves including the large center vein. Slice 1 jalapeño or serrano chili, including seeds and veins, into rings. Crush 3 or 4 cloves of new garlic. Place fry pan on low flame. Add 3 tablespoons of very fruity olive oil and crushed garlic. Sauté for 1 minutes. Add chili and continue cooking on low for another minute. Add cut leaves and continue cooking until leaves just wilt. Add 3 grinds of black pepper, half a teaspoon of salt. Place in serving dish and squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top.
Remove large center vein from leaf and reserve for another use (maybe add to stock). Chiffonade cut the leaves. Crush 1-2 clove of new garlic. Place fry pan on low flame. Add 2 tablespoons light olive oil, 1 large tablespoon unsalted butter and crushed garlic. Sauté for 1 minutes. Add cut leaves and continue cooking until leaves just wilt. Remove leaves from pan. Add another large tablespoon of butter to pan. Add 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan. Toast for a minutes until golden. Add 3 grinds of black pepper, half a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of peperoncino flakes. Place leaves in serving dish and cover with toasted crumbs. Grate lemon rind on top.
Remove large center rib from leaf. Reserve. Chiffonade cut the leaves and add them to a non metallic bowl. Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Using your hands massage the leaves (like kale) until the greens easily bend - about 15 minutes. Place leaves in a sieve and rinse off the salt and lemon juice. Put aside. Chop reserved rib and a small bunch of fresh chives. Add to chard leaves. In a small frying pan toast 1/4 cup of pine nuts or hazelnuts, careful not to over-brown them. In a separate saucepan add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Heat dressing until it is warm but not hot. Add toasted nuts and 1/4 cup of sour dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, etc.) to the oil. Remove from heat and let cool 1 minute. Add dressing to a salad bowl. Add salad greens and plenty of ground pepper. Toss. Eat.
Thoroughly wash chard leaves. Rough chop chard including center rib. Rough chop 2 medium leeks. Dice 1 serrano chili including seeds and veins. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to heavy gauge pot. On medium heat sauté leek and serrano chili until leeks are translucent but not brown. Reduce heat to medium. Add two whole cloves of new garlic. Add chard and cook until leaves are wilted. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Add 8 cups of filtered water. Turn heat up to medium. Peel and chop 6 large potatoes. Add to pot. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Remove pot from stove and blend soup with a wand blender until all ingredients are incorporated. Place fine strainer over large bowl. Push soup through the strainer using a wooden spoon. Discard pulp. Return strained liquid to pot. Turn flame onto low. Add 2/3 cup heavy cream (10%), 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, juice of 1 lemon. Taste for salt and pepper. Soup will be quite thin. If you want a thicker soup, heat liquid without cream. When soup is hot, remove from flame. Whip cream to half volume and fold into liquid and serve immediately.
I have quite a few more, but I think that is enough for now.
I never managed to make the chard today. It is Shabbat and we ventured out in the car for the first time in 6 weeks. Even managed to get it washed and Sami got to run around the beach at Bat Yam. Better yet, had my first קפה הפוך (cappuccino) since we returned from the States.
Tomorrow I will return to the chard which is still looking very fresh in the bowl. I have a couple of ideas. Maybe stuffed with rice and baked in lemon and oil like grape leaves. Or perhaps filled with squash and ricotta . Maybe I'll get ambitious and make a tart with sundried tomatoes and feta. We'll see.
Lisa, hope this helps.