Hearty Greens Month continues here in My Little Corner…
Have you ever seen a prettier vegetable? Deep green crinkly leaves, a bright rainbow of juicy stems… I just love them! To be perfectly honest, I was first drawn to them by their good looks. The fact that most of us don’t get enough dark leafy greens in our diets – as the media likes to remind us – and I was determined to branch out beyond spinach was a secondary factor the first time I brought some home.
It’s a real sweetheart in the garden, too. Easy to grow, and can be harvested over a long season. When the leaves are tiny, they can be snipped and added to salads raw, just like the beets they’re related to. Mature plants, like the ones in the store, are easy to cook for a warm winter side dish. The plants can take below-freezing temperatures – in a mild winter, I would still be picking my own. As it is, I’ve got a fall-planted patch that will begin to grow again as soon as it warms up. They’ll be among the first things harvested next spring!
But, back to today’s recipe, which is less a recipe than an idea… Rinse your bunch of chard under cold water. Trim the ends – that’s the little dried-out end of the stem – and chop into pieces roughly one inch wide. Some people don’t use the ribs, or use them in other recipes. If you want to remove them, simply fold each leaf in half lengthwise, and cut the rib away from the leaf. I leave them in – they cook up nice and tender, and add a bright splash of color to the plate. Suit yourself, of course.
Add about a cup of chicken stock to the pan. Vegetable stock works just as well, if you want to make this a vegetarian side. Plain water is also fine, but you’ll probably need to add a bit of salt and pepper if you use that. It won’t taste nearly as rich.
Put a lid on the pan, and bring it to a boil over medium-high. As soon as you see steam escaping from under the lid, turn the burner down to low. Note to electric stove owners! You will get much better results if you move the pan to another burner that’s already on low heat. It takes too long for the element on an electric burner to cool-down to where you want it.
After about 5 minutes, lift the lid and give it a quick stir. Put the lid back on, and continue to cook for 4 or 5 more minutes. If it’s still really soupy at the end of the cooking time, take the lid off, turn up the heat, and boil some of the juice away. That will concentrate the flavor as well.
Plate it up, and dig in! This makes a nice accompaniment for fish or chicken, but it’s most often found alongside pork chops at our place. Got leftovers? Mix them into some cooked rice to up your vitamins!
Got a favorite way to cook chard? Or a suggestion for another Hearty Green? Share it in the comments!