When I interviewed John Ostering and his revival of Morgan’s Farm I was familiar with most of the vegetables he had growing. Ghost eggplants and Swiss chard, though, were both new to me. I’ve seen Swiss chard in the grocery stores and it always looks so pretty. But, finding myself in unfamiliar culinary territory, I have stayed away from it.
This past Saturday, I actually made it to the farm. Note to readers: By 10 a.m. all of the tomatoes were gone, so get there early. Tomatoes this summer have been amazing! There were still a few bunches of Swiss chard available though, so I asked Julie Ostering and Brennan McCarthy what to do with it. Julie suggested sautéing it, and Brennan suggested blanching it (cooking it for about 30 seconds in boiling water). Ostering said it was just like spinach. I like spinach. I also like the pretty colors of the stems. The stems and leaves have totally different textures, but both worked well in this recipe.
I decided to go with sautéing both the stems and leaves and tossed them both with some quinoa. In the end, the Swiss chard was an excellent addition to the quinoa and made a tasty summer side dish.
Quinoa With Swiss Chard
1 small bunch Swiss chard, rinsed, stems removed from leaves, and leaves cut into strips
2 small shallots, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
sea salt to taste
1/2 tomato seeded and diced
1/2 cucumber seeded and diced
Quinoa cooked according to package directions at room temperature.
Sauté the shallot and Swiss chard stems in olive oil with lemon juice. Sprinkle a little sea salt while cooking. Cook until soft and just golden brown.
Add leaves from Swiss chard to pan and cook just until wilted and bright green. Remove from heat.
Add tomatoes and cucumbers to prepared quinoa and stir.
Add cooked Swiss chard and stir well together.
Season with additional lemon juice and olive and toss to coat.
Notes from my experience:
Swiss chard is not as bitter as beet tops and doesn’t leave that strange feeling on the back of your teeth like spinach does. I think it’s much milder to use in a salad and I think I will try it in risotto too.
If you buy Swiss chard and it gets wilted, just place it in a bowl of cold water and it should get back to its original shape, like celery does.
Instead of flavoring the final quinoa salad with lemon juice and olive oil, you can use whatever vinaigrette or dressing you prefer. I wanted to stick with the flavors from the pieces I cooked.