Sunday, January 16, 2011

If Willy Wonka Could Make Vegetables

Umpa, Lumpa, Dippity-dee
When I saw this striking vegetable in the supermarket, I wondered how it managed to hide from me all these years. Maybe it was more me hiding from them. But now that I am exploring vegetables these leafs screamed "Look at me!" I'm a sucker for color; I had to grab a bunch. But how should I prepare them?

I found a delicious and easy recipe for swiss chard from a YouTube channel called Hungry in Brooklyn. The video itself was nicely edited, and I would have believed it if she said this was a new web series for the cooking or travel channel.

In her video, Shea Hess talks to a Chef and a famer to find out some tips on this psychedelic vegetable. Here are a few things to know about swiss chard:

- It is pronounced CHard like Chocolate
- Leafy vegetable similar to spinach
- Member of the beet family
- Spring/fall are the best times to buy

Here is the recipe she used:

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Shallots and Garlic

Strip leaves from the rib (stem)
Cut off ends of rib
Cut the ribs into small 1/4in pieces
Chop 2 shallots
Chop 2 cloves of garlic
2 tbs of olive oil
1/4 cup of white wine
1 tbs of butter

Toss olive oil, Chard ribs, shallots, and garlic into pan
Add a little salt
Add the leafs of chard (blanch two minutes before hand)
Add white wine
Cook it down, so the alcohol evaporates
Add butter

The recipe was a little time consuming, only because she says you should blanch the vegetables to reduce bitterness and to prevent burning. Total time to cook was about 25 minutes, but the results were fantastic. Not only were the colors bright and vibrant, but it tasted phenomenal. The center rib from the chard gave the dish a crunchy dimension, and the leaves tasted like a wonderful shade of spinach.  

It was an excellent side dish to steak. The crispy outside of the steak and the crunchy ribs were a good pairing. Also, if you’re looking for a dish to give your dinner a little liveliness, then chard is the way to go. It looks like something out of the Willy Wonka factory, but it tastes so much better.

One thing to note if you are having company or want left overs: the leaves cook down a lot, and I was left wanting more. A whole bunch of chard easily boiled down to about two cups. This was fine for me, but if you’re having guests, or you want to have left overs I would recommend cooking two bunches. 

Check out more of Hungry in Brooklyn’s videos here: