"Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. " That is the thinking beind the monolithic meat and potatoes food culture that marked my first dozen years. More than two dozen years later, I still approach certain new foods with caution and an excess of butter to tame their strange flavors. While it is true that I embrace certain new foods with wanton delight (Hello, mushrooms!), I am cautious when it comes to various greens. Salad is one thing, but beet greens and chard are a puzzle that only recently have yielded tasty dinners. Last year, Butter Bitch and I had what we might call interesting experiences with chard, kale, beet greens and collard greens. Oh, collard greens, how your bitterness has foiled our recipes. Swiss chard wasn't a winner last year, but this year has been different.
We spotted a new chard recipe in our weekly CSA flyer, and we decided that if the results weren't tasty we could erase the bitterness with burgers from Skagit River Ranch. The recipe resulted in a very tasty dish, and I include it below.
One cup of Swiss Chard has a lot of vitamins A and C, and also provides B vitamins, vitamin E, and a number of minerals. (I found chard's nutritional information at Nutrition Data Dot Com and the Center for Disease Control.) Chard also has a lot of sodium. I would like to say that we felt healthier as soon as we ate the chard dish, but our only comment was, "We're eating chard!" It was that good.
Swiss Chard with Dried Fruit and Nuts
1 head of Swiss Chard, thoroughly rinsed
1/2 cup of nuts (we used pine nuts, but they can be omitted if you have nut allergies)
1/4 cup of golden raisins (optionally, use dried cherries or dried apple and include an extra 1/4 cup of water)
1 finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup of water
Separate the stems from the chard leaves. Chop the stems and leaves separately and set aside.
Put the nuts in a 8-quart or 12-quart pot and toast over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. The nuts should not burn. Set aside the nuts.
In the same pot, add the olive oil and chopped onion and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the chard stems and cook for 2 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add the dried fruit and 1/2 cup of water (add an extra 1/4 cup of using dried cherries or dried apple) to the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, until the stems are soft.
Add the chard leaves and the last 1/2 cup of water to the pot and bring the mixture again to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer for three more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leaves are softened.
Season with pepper and serve sprinkled with nuts. The recipe recommends seasoning with salt, but chard is high in sodium so I didn't use salt.