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Swiss Chard With Pistachios And Mint Recipe

by | Apr 5, 2010
Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

I realized I left many of you hanging this weekend after talking so much about chard without giving you my favorite recipe. Chard is a regular in my weekly meals because it is delicious, inexpensive and usually available year round. But this time of year, it shouldn’t be missed.

This recipe is a true crowd pleaser–I’ve won over more than a few self-proclaimed chard haters with it.

When older and larger, chard can sometimes take on a slightly bitter quality (not a problem this time of year). In this recipe I cut the bitterness with fresh mint, which brightens the dish in a subtle yet surprising way. I also add pistachio nuts to give the dish a pleasant crunch.

I love this dish with eggs or as an accompaniment to beans or lentils.

Swiss Chard With Pistachios And Mint

Makes 2-3 side dishes

Ingredients:

  • One bunch Swiss chard, any color
  • One shallot or leek
  • 1/4 cup pistachio nut meats
  • About 12 fresh mint leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

To start, dice a small mild onion such as a shallot, leek or ciopollini. If you use a leek be sure to clean it well and remove all the trapped dirt between the leaves.

Next slice a large handful of mint leaves. Leaves such as mint and basil are easiest to cut if you chiffonade them by stacking the leaves on top of each other and rolling them lengthwise like a cigarette. From there they are easy to cut into thin strips. Set the mint aside.

Clean your chard. If the stems are very thick (which they often are) you may want to remove them from the leaves. After removing the stems, cut the chard leaves into 1 inch squares. If you want to include some stem in your dish for color and texture, cut them in half and add them to the pan a few minutes before the leaves so they soften and are easier to eat.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat until it swirls easily in the pan. Add onion, pistachio nuts and chard stems and sauté until the onion is soft and starts to brown slightly.

Add chard leaves and stir to coat in oil. Gently sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover for 1-2 minutes, allowing the chard to wilt. Uncover, stir and continue to cook until chard is dark green and the stems are tender, about 8 minutes.

Sprinkle mint over the chard and stir. Continue cooking another 1-2 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Have you ever tried chard with mint?

Recipe was originally published August 17, 2008, but has been much improved.

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Farmers Market Update: Chard Obsessed

by | Apr 4, 2010
Chard

Chard

I had no idea I loved chard as much as I apparently do. When I got home from the farmers market and browsed through my photos, about half of them were pictures of chard.

Organic Chard

Organic Chard

Ruby Chard

Ruby Chard

Is that weird?

I think the attraction was the rainbow of colors that to me is so representative of springtime. And nothing is more colorful than rainbow chard.

Ok, the beets were pretty beautiful too.

Colorful Beets

Colorful Beets

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

I love being inspired by vegetables.

The biggest news from the market today was the appearance of heirloom tomatoes. Though I wasn’t quite ready to commit to buying them, I’m very excited about the coming weeks as their flavor develops.

Organic Strawberries

Organic Strawberries

First Heirloom Tomatoes

First Heirloom Tomatoes

I did take the plunge and purchase some strawberries this week, however. I’m a huge fan of the berries at Dirty Girl Produce, and they still had a few baskets left when I got there. But these berries at Swanson Berry Farm looked pretty tasty as well.

Avocados, artichokes and celery also caught my attention this week. I stocked up on baby artichokes for good measure.

Organic Celery

Organic Celery

Organic Artichokes

Organic Artichokes

It is also a great time to get salad greens. A few vendors are carrying miner’s lettuce with these cool Alice-In-Wonderland-looking leaves. And I’m always drawn to the adorable savoy cabbages.

Baby Savoy Cabbage

Baby Savoy Cabbage

Miner's Lettuce

Miner's Lettuce

Be sure you get your fill of citrus in the coming weeks, since it will be disappearing before you know it. And don’t forget the green garlic and onions.

Baby Onions

Baby Onions

Today’s purchases:

Were you inspired by vegetables this week?

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Winter Salad Tip: Making Tough Greens Soft

by | Jan 11, 2010
Winter Salads

Winter Salads

Today Nathalie Lussier is sharing her secret tips for making tough winter greens soft enough to eat in salads. Winter salads are a perfect use for all the lovely radishes, kohlrabi, carrots, beets and other sweet vegetables available this season at the farmers market.

Top off your salad with hazelnuts, grapefruit and some shaved cheese for a satisfying winter meal or side dish.

Nathalie Lussier helps people overcome unhealthy food cravings so they can eat more fruits and vegetables, and experience the magick of raw foods. She’s known as The Raw Foods Witch.

How To Use Winter Greens In A Salad

by Nathalie Lussier

Winter might not strike you as salad season, but there are plenty of delicious hearty greens to be had this time of year. One trick is to marinate the leaves so they soften and are easier to chew.

Here’s how to prepare some of these tougher greens and enjoy rich, satisfying salads year round.

Choosing Hearty Greens

The foundation of any good salad is the green component. Usually we think of lettuce, but there is a world of other greens to explore.

So what options do we have when it comes to hearty greens?

1. Kale: Kale is a tough vegetable that can handle the cold. It has a strong taste, but with a little bit of massaging it can make a really satisfying salad green. There are a few varieties, from the most common curly green to the spotty dinosaur (aka Tuscan) and beautiful purple kales. They are each slightly different and you should experiment with them all.

2. Cabbage: Cabbage is a tried and true winter veggie, but we can go beyond the usual coleslaw, saurkraut and cooked cabbage. Different colored cabbage adds beauty and variety to your salads, as well as sweetness and a crispy texture.

3. Swiss Chard: A relative of spinach, Swiss chard has a thick midrib that comes in a rainbow of colors like green, white, red, pink, and yellow. Swiss chard is great in salads and can be easier to chew than some of the others.

Washing & Cutting The Greens

kale-destem

De-stemming Tuscan Kale

Wash the greens thoroughly, you never know when a caterpillar will decide to make her home in a leaf of kale.

The way you cut the greens is important because you want them to absorb the marinade and soften.

Cutting Kale and Swiss Chard

For both kale and Swiss chard, you need to remove the stems by using a knife and slicing them out vertically. You can then chop up the stems and add them back to the salad like you would celery or other hard vegetables.

After you’ve removed the stems, slice the kale and chard horizontally into 1 inch strips. Put the sliced greens in a large bowl.

Don’t worry if you think you sliced up too much, it will shrink down in size as it marinates.

Cutting Cabbage

If you’re using cabbage, cut the cabbage in half and then use a knife to cut thin strips. These should look like coleslaw slices. You may have to cut them lengthwise if they are too long.

I recommend you cut the whole cabbage and make a big batch, unless you have something else planned for the other half. Making large batches at once makes future healthy meals that much easier.

Massaging & Marinating The Greens

This is the magic part that will take regular tough greens and turn them into the perfect salad.

Ingredients

  • Your chosen greens or a combination of them (1 bunch)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil or more as needed
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Pinch of Celtic sea salt

Now it’s time to get your hands dirty! Add the ingredients into your mixing bowl and massage them into the greens with your hands.

You really want to squeeze the oils and juices into the greens, because that’s what will make them truly mouthwatering.

The Final Touches

After you’ve thoroughly massaged your winter green salad, add any other chopped vegetables you like, or any of these salad toppings.

Dress the greens and veggies for a hearty, satisfying winter salad!

Don’t let tough winter greens turn you off salads. Once you know how to make those winter greens more palatable, you’ll be eating delicious raw salads all year round!

Do you have any winter salad tips?

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Farmers Market Update: Amnesia

by | Jan 31, 2009

collard leaf

First off, I would like to apologize for getting this post up so late. I brought my camera to the market today, but unfortunately it was missing its memory card.

So yeah, both my camera and I were experiencing memory dysfunction.

In a lot of ways being camera-free was liberating; my shopping was easier and less hurried. But I do regret not getting a picture of the cherry blossoms from Hamada Farms.

As an alternative to authentic farmers market pictures, today I opted to bring my purchases home and try out some new photo equipment I am experimenting with. This project took all afternoon, and the rest of the evening I spent editing and writing.

Please let me know what you think about these photos. I am considering using more images like this at Summer Tomato in the future. (Don’t worry, they won’t entirely replace my regular farmers market pictures).

I think the images of leafy greens are particularly cool because they look like dendritic arbors of neurons, which is what I work on in lab every day.

———-

Today the market was beautiful. It was calm and not at all crowded, but I could feel winter winding down. The sun was bright and almost warm.

At the stands there were only a few lingering winter squash and more delicate greens are springing up everywhere. Pomegranates cannot be found at all (new cereal topping ideas anyone?) and even the citrus selection is less diverse than it was a few weeks ago.

Spring is on its way!

Today’s purchases:

  • Trumpet mushrooms (Far West Fungi)
  • Romanesco (Dirty Girl Produce)
  • Ruby chard (Star Route)
  • Pink pomelo (Paredez Farms)
  • Naval oranges (Hamada Farms)
  • Blood oranges (Hamada Farms)
  • Meyer lemon (Hamada Farms)
  • Baby artichokes (Iacopi Farms)
  • Collards (Capay Organics)
  • Gold chard (Capay Organics)
  • Treviso (Capay Organics)
  • Kiwi (Four Sisters Farm)
  • Rosemary (Chue’s)
  • Italian parsley (Chue’s)
  • Garlic (Chue’s)
  • Espresso Temescal (Blue Bottle Coffee)

I would love to know what you think about my photos! And FYI, the scientific glassware is a pet project of mine, I didn’t get it at the farmers market….

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Healthy Lunch: Chicken Chard Soup

by | Jan 21, 2009

Since summer ended I have been searching for the perfect winter lunch to bring to work. I want something healthy, delicious and, given the season, warm.

Roasted vegetables are a pretty good choice, but I learned the hard way that they don’t quite have the long-term appeal of summer salads (i.e., I got sick of them really fast).

My latest experiment is soup.

Soup appeals to me for many reasons:

  1. It stores and transports easily and can be heated up in a minute or two in the microwave. This makes it a perfect food for the office.
  2. Almost any recipe can be turned into a soup, so you can enjoy cuisines from all cultures–you could eat soup every day for the rest of your life and never eat the same one twice.
  3. Soups are easy to modify, and hard to mess up.
  4. As many of you know, I have a lot of experience making soup.

I accepted the challenge.

The first place I turned was my faithful Splendid Soups, by James Peterson. I can’t imagine there is a better soup recipe book on the planet. Not only have I used it to make dozens of spectacular soups, but it has made me a better overall cook as well. This book is truly a treasure.*

I had several goals for my first soup:

First, I wanted it to be healthy and light, meaning it should have something green (e.g. chard) in it and be broth based rather than cream based.

Second, I wanted to use the whole chicken I bought at the farmers market. I don’t normally eat meat for lunch, but I had been wanting to experiment with whole chicken and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I ended up modifying one of the vegetable recipes in the book to include chicken. Peterson gives detailed instructions on how to use chicken in any soup, so I simply followed his technique.

My soup turned out divine, but preparing it took longer than I had hoped.

Word of advice: Ask the butcher to quarter the chicken for you (unless you are planning on roasting it). This was only the second time I had quartered a chicken, and though it wasn’t very difficult it definitely cost me 20-30 minutes because of my inexperience. Oops.

Chicken Chard Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium chicken, quartered
  • 1 large bunch of Swiss chard, trimmed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium sweet onions, diced
  • 2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 28-0z can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 cups (1 box) chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 0.5 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil

Heat some olive oil in a pan just large enough for the chicken to cover the bottom. Add the chicken skin-side down and cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes. Turn with tongs and cook for another 5 minutes, remove from heat and set aside. If at any point the chicken begins to burn, lower the heat.

Shred the chard by cutting out the stems (I like to leave a few in, but I cut them in half), stacking and rolling the leaves, then cutting them in thin, 0.25 inch strips. This is the same chiffonade technique we use on basil, sage and mint leaves.

In a 4-quart pot, cook onions, garlic and chilies in olive oil on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Allow the onions to become translucent, but not brown. Add thyme and cook 2 more minutes.

Add broth, water, tomatoes and chicken and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the chicken feels firm to the touch. Remove chicken and set it aside to cool. Add chard to the soup and simmer 10 more minutes.

Remove chicken skins and cut chicken into bite-sized chunks. Return chicken meat to the soup, add parsley and simmer 2 more minutes. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread.

This soup will keep up to 5 days in a cold refrigerator.

*Note: If you decide to buy Splendid Soups (or any other item from Amazon), please consider using one of the links from this site and help support my blog. My favorite books and kitchen equipment are listed in the Shop.
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