Swiss Chard is my favorite green. It has the deep, biting flavor of greens, but because it’s a tender green, you can have it cooked in fifteen minutes. It is a regular in my rotation of weeknight side dish vegetables.
Nothing goes better with pork chops and mashed potatoes than a side of greens. This is one of my core beliefs, right up there with family, god, country, basic techniques instead of recipes and making your own stock.
And Swiss Chard is so pretty! Instead of the usual monochrome vegetable, you get a rainbow of green, yellow, orange and red. The explosion of colors brings a smile to my face.
- 12″ frying pan with a lid (I like my All-Clad 12 inch nonstick fry pan for this, but any 12″ pan with a lid will do)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bunch swiss chard (roughly 1 pound)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Juice and zest of one orange (optional)
- More salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1. Prep the chard: Separate the leaves of the swiss chard from the stems. I do this by folding the leaf on my cutting board, along the stem. Then I run my knife down the edge of the stem, separating both sides of the leaf from the stem. Slice the stems into 1/4 inch slices, and cut the leaves into 1 inch slices.
*If the chard has dirt on it, I fill a salad spinner with water to clean it. I separate the stems from the leaves first, then I swish the stems in the water in the spinner to clean them. I slice the leaves, and put them into the water in the spinner. Then I use the spinner to rinse and dry the leaves.
2. Saute the Stems: Heat the olive oil in a frypan over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the sliced stems, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Saute for 5 minutes, or until softened. Make a hole in the center of the stems, add the garlic, and saute for 1 minute.
3. Steam the Leaves: Add the leaves to the pan, sprinkle with another 1/2 tsp kosher salt, then cover and cook for another five minutes.
4. Seasoning: Remove the lid, pour in the orange juice, grind some black pepper on top, and toss the leaves and stems until combined. Taste a leaf, and add more salt if necessary (it usually needs an extra 1/2 tsp of kosher salt). Remove to a platter, and sprinkle the orange zest on top. Serve.
Use regular chard instead of the swiss chard. It isn’t as pretty, but it tastes just as good.
Use butter in place of the olive oil.
Substitute a lemon for the orange.
Use a splash of balsamic vinegar instead of the orange juice and zest
To really go for broke, calorically speaking, substitute bacon for the olive oil. Cook a couple of slices of bacon in the frypan, set the bacon aside, and saute the chard in the bacon fat. Crumble the bacon over the chard just before serving.
The leaves take up a lot of space until they start to wilt. If you want to double this recipe, use a 6 quart or larger dutch oven. You will need the extra space to fit all the leaves before they wilt.
*I usually cook this in a nonstick fry pan, but you don’t have to. It works just as well in a regular fry pan; the leaves generate enough liquid that you don’t have to worry about sticking. It’s just that I’m usually using my stainless fry pan for the main course when I’m making this.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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