I prepared several different dishes using Swiss chard this week using a 2-3 minute steam or pan-sauté. But for the last ten years my daily green juices included chard with a variety of other greens, ginger and a green apple. Why? Because this vibrant rich dark green leafy vegetable is a nutrient powerhouse!
But cooking with chard is new to me and I was surprised and pleased at how quick, easy and versatile it is to work with. It can be added to soups, salads, used as a wrap, added to sweet and regular potato mashes, stuffed in roasted onions and simply sautéed with onions, garlic and an array of other vegetables, then tossed with a whole grain like rice, farro or a soba noodle or pasta. Make sure the soba noodle or pasta is 100% whole grain–not just an “organic whole grain” because unless it is appropriately labeled it is impossible to know how much whole grain the product contains.
The key to working with chard is to remember that it is done cooking in less than 3 minutes– whether it is sautéed or steamed. Remembering this tip will result in vibrant, rich greens that make dishes pop with color as well as retain the most nutrients.
Ingredients per person:
yellow onion, 1/2 diced
whole garlic, minced
1 small carrot
1/2 sweet bell pepper
6 small-medium rainbow chard, remove stalk and save
2/3 cup 100% whole grain penne
quality California extra virgin olive oil – 2t
fresh squeezed lemon juice – 1 to 2T
fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
Dice onion and mince garlic and let sit 5 minutes to release healthy sulfurs.
Wash chard, remove stalks, fold and cut into ribbons; then roughly dice.
Wash carrot and use spiralizer for quick julienne cuts. Turn carrots and cut again so the carrots are about an inch or so long.
Boil water for pasta. When you use 100% whole grain pasta, it generally takes about ten minutes. I like my pasta and vegetables al dente.
While pasta is cooking (be sure to stir to prevent clumping) warm sauté pan on medium heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil for each serving.
Add onions. Use water from the pasta for any additional liquid you need to prevent sticking. The starch from the water adds a wonderful flavor and texture allowing you to cook with less oil and yet retain wonderful flavors.
When the onion is brown, add garlic and carrots and sauté for another minute or so. The thinly sliced carrots allow you to quickly cook the vegetable resulting in the retention of more flavor and nutrients.
Add the chopped chard. Turn heat to low, add pasta water, if needed, stir and cover for 2-3 minutes.
Your pasta should be done by now. Drain pasta and toss with chard, onions, carrots, olive oil, lemon juice. Add fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.
This dish reminds me of a lingering winter that finally gives way to spring. I suppose it’s the combination of winter cranberries and citrus melding with the spring carrots and mint. It’s one of my favorite dishes.
Ingredients – Serves 8
Cranberries, fresh or frozen, whole 1 1/2 cups
French lentils, 1 1/2 cups rinsed, pick through, rinse again
Farro, pearled, 1 cup rinse, pick through, rinse again
2T honey, maple syrup or organic sugar
1 sweet potato (1 1/2 cups peeled and cubed)
2 carrots, washed and diced (2 cups)
fresh ginger – 1 inch peeled and grated
3T dried orange rind (grind in coffee grinder)
3T fresh mint, minced and used as garnish
4 Moro Blood oranges
Combined washed cranberries with rinsed French lentils and rinsed farro with 4 1/2 cups of water in large pot. Bring to a gentle boil, turn burner down and simmer for twenty minutes to twenty-five minutes.
While ragout simmers, peel sweet potato, wash carrots and dice into 1/2 inch pieces.
Peel ginger and grate using micro grater.
Add carrots, sweet potato, ginger, cinnamon, ground orange rind, honey (maple syrup or organic sugar) and let simmer until done (an additional 10-20 minutes.) I prefer my vegetables al dente, so I simmer the carrots for ten minutes. Generally the lentils and farro (pearled farro variety) are done at the same time.
While carrots and sweet potato simmer, grate orange peels, wash and mince mint. Cut oranges in half and juice.
Serve ragout in bowls and top each one with the juice from half an orange, 1t of grated peel, 1/2t minced mint and fresh ground pepper.
I add the orange juice after cooking the ragout because adding during the cooking process dilutes and dulls their juicy sweet flavors and the raw state preserves the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
You can substitute brown rice for farro. Both grains are sweet and meld perfectly with the cranberries’ tartness and the blood orange juices.
During the fall and winter holidays, I generally buy several baskets of fresh organic cranberries and freeze them. Cranberries make wonderful additions to soups, salads, and ragouts.
When I juice an organic orange, I first remove the peel (using a vegetable peeler) and either save it in the refrigerator, freeze it or leave it out on a plate to dehydrate naturally. I like to use orange peel (fresh or dried) as much as I like to use fresh ground pepper. Because this is an expensive spice, this habit pays off.
I use a paring knife and peeler for strips of orange peel, a zester for curls and a micro-plane for small slivers. I store the dehydrated orange peel in a glass jar and generally grind the peel in a spice grinder right before I use it.