Saturday, June 10, 2006
Balsamic Chard Sauté
The garden is starting to overflow with leafy things! Oh no! Fortunately, leafy things are good for you and delicious, so let's use a huge amount of chard and make a balsamic chard sauté. Technically, there's some steaming involved, so it's not officially a sauté, but we who are still culinarily challenged don't know precisely what to call it.
We start with a very large colander of washed and mostly dried chard, snipped into strips a couple of fingers wide. You can just grab a bunch of chard and snip across the top, it's quick and easy. Remember to move your fingers as you get closer to your hand! Especially if you're talking to someone in the kitchen. Not that I've ever, well, nevermind. :-) Include the tasty stalks, cut to about finger-length or slightly shorter. Reserve a large double handful of leaf, with no stems, and set aside. If you have a range of sizes, try to reserve only smaller, more tender leaves to set aside.
Toss the rest into a pre-warmed pan in which a little light olive oil has been warming-- just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Drizzle liberally with a good balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing, or your favorite balsamic, olive, and herb bread dipping concoction. Toss, or stir gently with tongs. As the chard cooks, it will release water, but if the pan looks too dry, sprinkle a little water on top. Lower the heat, put on a lid, and let the chard steam to soften the stalks. As you can see by the photo, which shows our chard about half done, most of the zippy color is still in place. However, we like the stalks nice and soft, and by that time, most of that color will be gone.
Reserved chard to the rescue! Toss in the snipped leaf-only chard that you set aside, give it a good stirring, and remove the pan from the stove. If you are going to be waiting to serve this for more than about 10 minutes, I recommend keeping it warm and tossing in the extra chard about 3 - 4 minutes before serving. That will give it time to soften, but not to lose its bright tones. Taste, and possibly add a last minute splash of pure balsamic for added zing. If you like slightly crunchy stalks, though, you can skip all this 'reserved chard' business and just stop when the color is about where it is in the photo.
Here is our yummy balsamic chard, plated with some lemon-dill halibut and fresh linguine. Doing this again, I think I'd have trout almandine as the fish, since the crunch of the almonds, and the brown color, would go much more nicely. As you can see, the chard cooks down to a small fraction of its former glory. The stems retain their color, but much of the leaf color is lost-- hence our tossing in the reserved chard leaf at the very end.
Hop on over to My Bay Area Garden to learn how easy it is to grow this beautiful and delicious veggie in your garden or on a sunny windowsill. And be sure to visit Weekend Herb Blogging, guest-hosted by SweetNicks, to see what other folks are up to in their kitchen gardens this weekend.