Friday, November 5, 2010

Swiss Chard is the cold weather crop of the season—enjoy it at as no-hassle dish before Thanksgiving’s got you running in high gear

Who doesn’t love veggies, too pretty (well…almost!) to eat? That’s Swiss chard for you—with its big leafy greens and ruby red stems, it looks right at home in a decorative copper pot—but that would be a crime! Thanks to Vitamins C, E & K, Swiss chard promotes lung health and is, perhaps, the best tasting member of the cruciferous veggie family—at least IMHO!

Some people call it Swiss, just to differentiate it from the French spinach; its other varieties are Rhubarb chard (green leaves, red stalks), Ruby chard (both red leaves and stalks) and Rainbow chard, which features a bouquet of all the varieties in stems of yellow, orange, pink and red. I know, I know…isn’t this so pretty, just to talk about, let alone eat??!

Swiss chard makes your cooking POP! (Effort not included)
For this chef, all varieties of chard, once they’re cooked, taste remarkably similar. Other foodies recommend using every part of the chard—stems and all—in your cooking. First, you’ll want to soak the big chard leaves in a sink full of water to get the dirt off, pat them dry with a kitchen towel, and gently separate the leaves from the stems. Blanch the leaves in a pot of salted boiling water for just 2 minutes before you sautee them. Set the stems aside, and chop them into 1-inch pieces; these should be sauteed before the leaves because they take a little longer to cook. I’ve found that chard is a beautiful and simple side dish for fish or pork (famous chefs advise not to “mess the chard too much—just use a little shallot, garlic, splash of white wine and whisper of butter…”)

Why it’s the Reason for the Season
This early November, Swiss Chard is extra large and billowy, so I’ve decided to declare it my cold weather crop of the season—in other words something fun to mess with right before Thanksgiving! Since chard is resilient to frost and available all year round—looking particularly hearty in produce aisles right now—I’m encouraging my fellow foodies to notice it, and purchase it, along with other winter root veggies lookin’ gorgeous right now—think ruby red beets.

But you know me—while I applaud the simplicity of Swiss chard, I also refuse to leave my foodie fans without a more elaborate way to enjoy this veggie of the month. My PEPPERED PORK PINWHEELS Stuffed with Swiss Chard, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mozzarella features 2 pounds worth of fibrous, vitamin and calcium loaded chard, and has been a Morgan family favorite for a long time. The filling is moist, full of goodness, and the pinwheels are GORGEOUS on the plate. Serve this dish with smashed potatoes and get used to the wonderful, albeit broken record sound of your kids asking for it again and again.

My other dish, in which you could say Swiss chard definitely “plays a roll” is my BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND SWISH CHARD ROLL-UPS with Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Sauce; everyone’s going to love coming to the table for this one, since it is, essentially, lasagna with butternut squash, a half pound of swiss chard and an open invitation to use béchamel (translation: creamy, buttery white) sauce if you’re feeling decadent.

With New Year’s resolutions still a couple of months away, I say why not? Besides, in these dishes, with the beauty, simplicity and nutritive powers of Swiss chard to balance things out—you’ve got the perfect excuse to get cooking!

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails