warm swiss chard salad

March 12, 2014 § 68 Comments

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I ran out to the market the other day to buy what we needed to make this warm salad.  With kale being the go-to leafy green these days naturally I headed toward that section of the produce area when these beautiful stalks of swiss chard caught my eye.  Crisp leaves, firm ribs, vibrant color, organic and huge!  I couldn’t resist.

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Swiss chard has an extended growing season here in the Pacific Northwest; the harvest timeframe is mid June all the way through March.  Even after what feels like a long winter I still see chard and kale growing in p-patches through out the city.  Goes to show how mild our winters are here in Seattle.  Nothing to complain about folks.

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Perhaps it is how the leaves retain their thickness after steaming, or the color vibrancy of red and green that I love so much about chard.  Or maybe preparing it like this on a Saturday morning and adding a poached egg and dry aged thick cut bacon on top seals the deal.  

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Swiss chard, shallots, a little cream and lemony breadcrumbs make up this wholesome and substantial salad.  Another fine recipe adapted from my favorite cooking magazine, Bon Appétit.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • ½ cup torn fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Sea salt
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard, ribs and stems cut into 2” lengths, leaves torn into 2” pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup heavy cream

M e t h o d

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Toss breadcrumbs, oil, and lemon zest on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt.  Toast them in the oven, tossing once, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook chard leaves in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 1 minute. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Squeeze the liquid out and dry off in a clean kitchen towel.
Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and chard ribs and stems, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until tender, 5–8 minutes.  Add cream; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Add chard leaves and cook, stirring, until warmed through and coated with cream sauce; season with salt and pepper.  Top Swiss chard with breadcrumbs just before serving.

company eggs for dinner

May 1, 2013 § 22 Comments

When I was a little girl I remember having a good laugh with my mom over our neighbor’s salad spinning technique.  After washing her lettuce she would put it in a pillow case, take it outside and spin it around and around like a propellor.  The water would spin off brilliantly!  She would spin a few times, stop, shake the lettuce a little, then spin again until she had perfectly clean, dry lettuce.   It was a comical site to see.  When I grew up I purchased a really spiffy salad spinner.  I used it, however, it took up an enormous amount of space in my small kitchen.  One day, by accident, I dropped the spinner and the bowl cracked in half.  Left without a choice that evening I turned to the pillow case spinning.  I was stunned.  It worked beautifully.  I was laughing as I spun and spun.  Needless to say, I did not replace my salad spinner.  I have a pillow case in my kitchen towel drawer specifically for my greens.  You may want to try it for the swiss chard in this recipe…

The other day I opened up the latest issue of Bon Appetite magazine and saw a beautifully photographed baked swiss chard and egg recipe.   I have been seeing a lot of gloriously baked dinners with eggs on top.  Loving eggs as we do in our family, I have been cracking them on top of thick creamy soups, baking them on pizzas and now….casseroles.   This is not your usual company egg recipe.  The company egg recipes I have read are more like a frittata; scrambled eggs combined with cheese and  mixed with other ingredients, then baked until firm.   Swiss chard is abundantly in season right now and suddenly I knew what we were going to have for dinner that night.

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When I stopped at the market to buy the swiss chard,  I picked up a delightful aged white cheddar.  I imagine a typical cheddar would be fine in this recipe, however, the flavor of this mature cheddar was extraordinary.   When I make this recipe again I will use 4 bunches of swiss chard.  I felt the “bed” the eggs laid on was a little thin.  The original recipe used 12 eggs.  With three of us around our table I only used 4 eggs.  Add more according to your appetite and number of gathered guests.   I used half and half instead of heavy cream, only because that is what I had in the refrigerator.  I served our company eggs with warm naan and roasted beets topped with garden fresh chives.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • sprinkling of sea salt and pepper
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard, thick center ribs and stems removed, washed, dried and coarsely chopped (about 12 cups)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 ounces aged white cheddar, grated (about 1/2 cup)

Method

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5-8 minutes.  Add chard to the skillet by the handful, tossing to wilt between additions. Cook until tender, 5-8 minutes. Add half and half, simmer until thickened and almost evaporated.  Place your chard mixture evenly in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Using the back of a spoon, make evenly spaced divots in the chard mixture. Crack 1 egg into each divot. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Sprinkle your cheddar all over.  Bake, rotating dish once, until egg whites are almost set and yolks are still a bit runny, 15-18 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving while the eggs set.

Served 3

buon appetite.

swiss chard risotto with chicken meatballs (risotto alla erbette con polpettine di pollo)

March 12, 2013 § 2 Comments

Usually on Monday I like to prepare a simple meal that does not require too many dishes, pots, time and thought.   However, last night something came over me and I took on a pretty significant cooking endeavor.  I made swiss chard risotto with chicken meatballs.  I found the recipe in La Cucina Italiana.  The entree was sensational!  Since the recipe came from the hard copy magazine, and they did not feature it on their website, I am unable to link it, so I will share it with you here.  This is why I love cooking.  While preparing this I didn’t feel rushed at all.  I went into it knowing there was a little more to it and I felt such a sense of quietude. Since I work full time, too often I’m rushed to get it on the table because it’s getting late in the evening and there are still too many things to do before bedtime.  We especially enjoyed the meatballs using finely chopped chicken thighs rather than ground chicken.  This step was the most time consuming, but highly recommended.

This recipe is exactly the same words as were used originally in the magazine. It did indeed take 1 hour, 45 minutes and I think it was more like 4 servings, rather than 6 servings.  But then we had this as a one dish meal.  No sides.

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1 hour, 45 minutes / 6 servings

Homemade chicken broth made with thigh bones deepens the flavor of the risotto.  If time is tight, substitute 4 cups store-bought, low-sodium broth combined with 2 cups water.  If using store-bought broth, use 3/4 pound boneless thigh meat or swap in ground chicken.

 Broth

  • 1 pound skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 celery rib, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 leafy thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • fine sea salt

 Meatballs

  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped carrot
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 leafy sage sprig
  • 1 leafy thyme sprig
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Risotto

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, gently smashed and peeled
  • 1 bunch swiss chard (about 3/4 pound), leaves finely chopped
  • fine sea salt
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Step 1.  FOR BROTH:  Remove skin and bones from chicken thighs; set aside meat.  In a large, wide saucepan, combine skin and bones, onion, carrot, celery, thyme, bay leaf, wine a pinch of salt and 6 cups of water.  Bring just to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a gentle simmer, cook 45 minutes.  Meanwhile prepare meatballs.

Step 2.  FOR MEATBALLS:  Cut reserved chicken into small cubes, then finely chop.  In a large bowl, soak bread in milk until softened about 1 minute.  Squeeze out excess milk and place back into the bowl with chicken, parsley, salt and pepper.  Mix until just combined well.  (do not over mix). then form 1-teaspoon portions into 1 1/4 inch balls.

Step 3.  In a large heavy saucepan, arrange meatballs in a single layer.  Add carrot, butter, sage and thyme.  Cook, covered, over medium heat, 10 minutes.  Add wine; bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes more; remove and discard herbs.  Remove pan from heat; cover to keep warm.

Step 4.  FOR RISOTTO:  In large saucepan with lid, heat 2 tablespoons oil and garlic, over medium heat.  Add chard and pinch salt, cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove and discard garlic, set aside chard.

Step 5.  Strain broth into a saucepan through a fine-mesh sieve, cover to keep warm (if using store-bought broth, bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and cover to keep warm).  In a medium saucepan, heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat; add shallot. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add rice; cook, stirring, 1 minute, then add wine.  Cook, stirring, until liquid is mostly absorbed.  Add 1/2 cup broth; cook, stirring frequently, until broth is mostly absorbed.  Continue adding broth in 1/2 cupfuls, stirring frequently, and allowing each addition to mostly absorb before adding the next, until rice is tender yet still slightly firm to the bite.  (You may have broth leftover).

 Step 6.  Stir in chard, cheese, butter and , if using homemade unseasoned broth 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve risotto immediately with meatball and their broth.

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