Simply Seasonal: Stay healthy with Sue’s Swiss chard
It’s cold and flu season again, so beef up your defenses with the pretty, leafy vegetable known as Swiss chard. This beet relative is a nutritional powerhouse, bringing you a plethora of vitamins, antioxidants, calcium, potassium and beta carotene. You can find abundant Swiss chard in grocery stores all year long. It grows quickly through spring, summer and fall, yielding several harvests. In milder climates, or in greenhouses, it can even grow during the winter. There are several varieties of chard and the colors are rainbow-hued. With bright red, orange, yellow or white stems, the plant is often used in edible landscapes.The leaves and stems of Swiss chard can both be eaten, though it is recommended you trim and chop the stems, and start cooking those first, adding the leaves later. The fibrous texture of the stems benefit from a simmer or braise, while the leaves will wilt in just moments. Both add a delicate, spinach-like flavor to your dish. If you like greens like collard or turnip, you are bound to love Swiss chard. “When you are short on time, Swiss chard will make a satisfying meal,” said Armando Navarro, Larkspur’s executive chef. “Saut some chopped garlic in olive oil until it starts to become fragrant, then toss in the Swiss chard leaves and cook for another minute or so till wilted. This side dish is quick, hearty and low in calories.”But how did Swiss chard get its name? The sturdy veggie actually originated in Sicily and was widely popular among Mediterranean regions. Many found little difference between chard, French spinach and beet greens, so 19th century seed catalog publishers gave credit to the Swiss botanist who developed this strain of greens. We don’t know his name, but his contribution to society is world renowned.
4 strips bacon2 garlic cloves, finely choppedPinch of dried crushed red pepper2 large bunches Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips> Fry bacon in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Remove bacon from pan and add garlic and crushed red pepper to the drippings. Saut until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chard stems; stir to coat. Cover; cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add chard leaves and cook until wilted. Crumble cooked bacon and add to chard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve. Serves 4.
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed 4 cups water 4 cups chicken stock 1 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving (optional) 1 large onion, finely chopped Pinch of crushed red pepper 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 bunch green Swiss chard, ribs and leaves coarsely chopped, separated 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice Freshly ground pepper Italian parsley, chopped> Saute chard stems, onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant and translucent. Stir in red pepper flakes and salt. Add chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Add lentils and simmer until soft. Add chopped Swiss chard leaves and cook until wilted. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and fresh ground pepper. Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped parsley. Serves 6.
1 pound bulk Italian sausage12 cups swiss chard, cut into strips1 pound penne pastaParmesan cheese to tasteRed pepper flakes> Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. In a large skillet, saut the sausage until it is well browned. Add the Swiss chard and cook until softened (do not overcook). Add red pepper flakes if desired. Drain pasta and add to chard mixture. Add parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Serves 4.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur (larkspurvail.com), at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale (avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa and features a West Coast-inspired, market-driven menu.
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