Fine Cooking (June/July 2010)
Our CSA is giving us lovely spring greens each week, to the point that our refrigerator is almost literally overflowing with kale, collards, and rainbow chard.
Fine Cooking must be peeking inside our fridge, because their "Greens Guide" feature in the current issue is just what we needed!
We're not lost when it comes to greens, but we do get into a rut. Take kale, for instance. We're very adept at using it to make some sort of impromptu slaw/salad in which the greens are tossed with a dressing and other vegetables. Or we can sauté it, finishing it with some red wine vinegar, and maybe even spicing it up with a little Sriracha.
Both are lovely, but when you're getting gobs of kale for weeks on end, those preparations tend to get a little dull. Is it time to think about kale desserts? We don't think so.
With chard we're in the same boat. We tend to sauté it more often than anything else, so as to help break down the tougher stems.
We love this recipe from Fine Cooking because it makes chard in this same method we have used dozens of times, but then adds in the ingredients of a basic pesto in order to bring new flavors to the dish. Toasted pine nuts, Parmesan and basil are layered into the chard after it has been sauteed, infusing those flavors throughout the dish.
With this simple modification, it's a whole new take on chard and one that we're glad to have in our repertoire. The basil is especially great, like a jolt of summer dropped into the greens.
If we had one point of advice about this dish, it's that you may want to adjust the amounts of pine nuts, Parmesan and basil to your own tastes. We were working with roughly the amount of chard in the recipe below, but it cooks down substantially and we found three tablespoons of pine nuts to be too much for our tastes. They're great in the dish, but three tablespoons threaten to overwhelm the taste of the greens. Our advice: just use your own judgment when layering in the toss-in ingredients. And if you're not sure, mix in a bit, taste, and then add more.
And if you've never tried chard, well, now's the time!
Serves three to four.
13 to 14 oz. Rainbow chard (about 1 large bunch)
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. pine nuts
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (8 to 10 large)
Pull or cut the stems from the chard leaves. Cut or rip the leaves into 2- to 3-inch pieces and wash and dry them well. Rinse the stems and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick.
In a 12-inch nonstick stir-fry pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pine nuts to a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.
Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the chard stems and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrunken and beginning to brown lightly, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chard leaves and 1/4 tsp. salt. Toss with tongs until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. (If using a skillet, you may need to add the chard in batches, letting the first batch wilt before adding more.) Remove the pan from the heat, add the cold butter pieces and stir just until the butter has melted.
Using tongs, immediately transfer about half of the leaves and stems to a serving plate and arrange. Sprinkle on half of the Parmigiano, basil, and pine nuts. Layer on the remaining leaves, stems, and pan juices, and garnish with the remaining cheese, basil, and pine nuts. Serve immediately.