Fast Five Ways to Enjoy Swiss Chard

Oh, Swiss Chard! The spinach of midsummer, hearty-but-light leafy green that can deal with a Central Illinois July!! Full of potassium and Vitamins A, C, and K!!

In case swiss chard doesn’t inspire your meal prep thinking, though, here are five ideas for dishes that use such common ingredients, they might not even require a trip to the store.

 

 

  1. In a Frittatta. We’re spoiled for local eggs around here, which are absolutely delicious. If you have a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, use it. If not, an oven-safe skillet will work. You want to saute your vegetables first: onion, garlic, greens, potatoes, etc. Beat the eggs in a bowl, then fold in the vegetables, and pour it all back in the hot (medium-high temp) buttered skillet. Spread out gently to distribute the vegetables, and let it cook without disturbing it, until you can see that the sides are set. Then, put in the oven at 400F for about 10 minutes to cook the middle. Or, you can leave it on the stovetop a little longer, and then put under the broiler to finish. I like to add some parmesan or asiago cheese to the top before putting it under the broiler. You can use the ribs in this, if you like; just start sauteeing them earlier than the leaves.
  2. With Polenta and Egg. I don’t generally use a recipe for this, but Bobby Flay’s generous use of butter and cheese for the polenta in this recipe definitely gets my thumbs up. Note that his recipe calls for mustard greens, but swiss chard makes a perfectly good substitute.
  3. With Beets and Goat Cheese. Since swiss chard is pretty much beet greens that have been bred for the qualities we desire in the leaves, cooking them up with the beet roots makes a certain kind of sense. I tend to think beets and goat cheese can do no wrong, and this recipe layers some additional flavors on and makes for a lovely-looking (and tasting!) dish to take or serve to company.
  4. In a Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese. Just like its cousin the beet, swiss chard also likes having some goat cheese around! This recipe adds garlic, mushrooms and onions, and I’m pretty sure some toasted almond slices would be a delicious addition.
  5. With Potatoes and Garlic. This is just about the easiest swiss chard recipe I know of: boil some small potatoes, put them in a pan with the swiss chard and some oil and garlic (red pepper flakes, if you like some heat), and toss/smash until combined and the chard is cooked. Here’s another, for good measure; the addition of some vinegar is a nice touch.

Week 6 Market Menu: Cukes and Zukes, or Cucurbit Time!

Welcome the Cucurbits! These are among my favorite summer vegetables. With the exception of tomatoes, I think it’s what I look forward to the most. Even zucchini ūüôā

Seasonal: Greens: Arugula, Dandelion, LOTS of Lettuces, Mustard, Swiss Chard, and Spinach.  Brassicas: Kale, Collards, Cabbage, Kohlrabi.  Cucurbits: Cucumbers and Zucchini!  Root Veg: Beets, Carrots, Potatoes, Radishes, and Turnips. Also green onions, green garlic and garlic scapes. Herbs: Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Mint, Oregano, Sage, Thyme.    Fruit:  Strawberries!!!!

All Summer: Eggs, chicken, beef, oats, wheat, cornmeal, pork, cheese, honey, baked goods, lavender, mushrooms, popcorn, and much more. See the complete list of vendors at this year’s market for more information about produce and products.

 

Fun fact about Swiss Chard: it’s actually a variety of beet! The varieties we cook and pickle has been bred for its roots, and the varieties whose leaves we chop and lightly cook have been bred for their large leaves! The greens from your beet roots are also tasty.

This week, it looks like we’re back to pretty warm weather… so crock pot and no-cook and leftovers galore are my plans for meals.

Breakfast Ideas:
I’ve been loving Chad Sanders’ sesame bagels for breakfast, toasted, with a little salted butter and a little fresh ground peanut butter. So delicious! Add a hard-boiled egg and maybe some fresh strawberries, and that’s a lovely breakfast!

Here’s a frittata recipe that features fresh cilantro and pretty much whatever you have in your fridge. When I first saw the picture, I thought the thin pink slices were sausage, and now I’m totally imagining making this with some local pork brats or crumbled sausage. And swiss chard or beet greens.

Frittatas used to intimidate me, I’ll be honest. Putting it all together and then just trusting that the eggs would be done made me nervous. But once I tried it, it became a regular in our easy-dinner rotation, not to mention brunch. I like using a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet for this; the iron heats evenly, and cooks the inside of the eggs without burning the bottom.

Lunch Ideas:

Pickled Cucumber Soup – Ottolenghi

Some cucumber-heavy dishes from Smitten Kitchen:

And two from Food and Wine:

Zucchini Agrodolce – 101 Cookbooks (if ever there was a zucchini recipe to get me excited about zucchini, this is it!! honey, garlic, evoo, walnuts and dates!)

Dinner Ideas:

Slow-Cooker Tacos! Start with your meat, choose flour or corn tortillas, and then a variety of vegetables! A few options for meat:

Other Taco ingredients:

Or.., try this Food and Wine recipe that uses a rotisserie chicken to cut down on cooking!

Prep-Freeze-Cook(ish), Part 1: Putting a Meal Together from Your Freezer

In our household, no one likes to cook during the week. I envy those people who say that cooking dinner helps them relax – executing a meal on a Tuesday night is right up there for me with being tied to my couch and forced to binge-watch The Lawrence Welk Show.

So in order to avoid a Weekday Jennifer Meltdown, we (and we is mostly me unless it’s grilling season) do as much batch cooking on the weekends as possible with the plan to get lunches and dinners for two through Thursday. In short, we live for leftovers – prized in our household for thrift, convenience, and the chance to eat more of what you enjoyed a night or two ago.

I’ve also learned to help myself out by stocking the freezer with meal “parts” in the same way you stock a pantry: items that you can pull out, thaw, pair with fresh items (or other leftovers), and get on with your evening.

A great, cheap, nutritious staple to have in the freezer is brown rice. I freeze large batches of brown rice so that I can make Bhudda bowls, a stir fry, or a quick pilaf, and rice is a great supporting character when you’ve got fresh vegetables to use.

The most ingenious way to make brown rice – ready for this? – is in your oven. Alton Brown’s strategy is one that can easily be doubled or tripled and frozen in small batches. (My go-to freezer storage is an old school deli container. For years I hoarded/obsessively guarded a collection of containers from Thai and Chinese takeout until it dawned on me that you can buy anything on the interwebs.) I store 32-ounce containers of rice and take them out a day or two ahead of when I’ll need to use them – or in a pinch, you can certainly defrost in the microwave.

Along with fresh vegetables, I also try to keep things like edamame beans, peas and other frozen veggies around for stir fry.

We’ve got an entire season of fresh veggies just begging to make friends with brown rice, so here are some options to check out to help you avoid Weekday Meal Meltdown:

Spring Green Stir Fry: Fried Rice with Collards (any green leafy will work here)

Mid-Summer Buddha Bowls: Oh She Glows Summer Bhudda Bowls, One Green Planet Veggie Bowls,

Almost Anytime Bowl: Sweet Potato Chick Pea Buddha Bowl

 

Enjoy!

— J.S.

Week 2 Market Menu:

This week at the¬†Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Artists’ Alley:

Seasonal: More greens, and lots of vegetable plants for your gardens! Arugula and Spinach and Collards and Chard and Kale, Carrots, Chives, Mint, Potatoes, Radishes, Rhubarb, Turnips, and more. And confirmed with at least one vendor that there will be asparagus!

All Summer: Eggs, chicken, beef, oats, wheat, cornmeal, pork, cheese, honey, baked goods, lavender, mushrooms, popcorn, and much more. See the complete list of vendors at this year’s market for more information about produce and products.

This week’s Market Menu:

The name of the game this week is “work with what you have!” We have a lot of turnips, so I’ve gathered several recipes to help us make salads with them. But if a recipe calls for something you don’t have, don’t worry! I substitute heavily when I cook, with a few notable exceptions:

  1. vinegar – try to use the same kind specified. If there’s one kind of vinegar I try never to run out of, though, it’s plain white.¬†¬†At the very least, it won’t overpower a dish if you have to use it in place of apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. I’ve made the mistake in the past of keeping a deep pantry of balsamic,¬†and then finding I was out of every other kind of vinegar.
  2. spices – omit something you don’t have, rather than substitute (or at least taste first!)
  3. butter/oil – follow your heart and taste buds here, but I like to use whatever the recipe calls for.

Breakfast Ideas:

Wheat Berries w/ dried fruit & nuts – New York Times
Pantry Check: Wheat Berries, optional spices (anise or fennel, cinnamon, nutmeg), raisins or other dried fruit, nuts, yogurt, brown sugar or maple syrup

 

Fried-and-Scrambled (aka Frambled) Eggs – Epicurious
Pantry Check: Eggs, Butter, optional add-ins (sausage, greens)

 

Lunch Ideas:

Salad w/ New Potatoes and Pickled Spring Onions РSmitten Kitchen
Pantry Check: new/fingerling potatoes, asparagus, spring peas or beans (optional), radishes, spring onions, white wine vinegar, whole-grain mustard, smooth dijon mustard

Your Custom Salad: Green, Big, and Single-Subject Salad, and Dressings!¬†– New York Times, “How to Make Salad”. I plan to make several versions of this throughout the week, using whatever greens I grab at the market. Arugula for sure.
Pantry Check: whatever looks good to you!!

Turnip and Cabbage Slaw with Yogurt Dressing¬†– New York Times, “In Praise of Turnips, Year-Round”
Pantry Check: turnips, green cabbage, greek yogurt, dill

Shaved Turnip and Radish Salad with Poppyseed Dressing – Splendid Table
Pantry Check: lemon, Dijon mustard, shallot, poppy seeds, honey or maple syrup, turnips, watercress, radishes, asparagus, chives

Dinner Ideas:

Swiss Chard Pancakes – Smitten Kitchen
Pantry Check: milk, AP Flour, eggs, onion, chives, shallot, garlic, parsley, chard, yogurt (optional)

Creamed Chard and Spring Onions – Smitten Kitchen
Pantry Check: swiss chard, onions, butter, AP flour, milk

Green Chickpea & Chicken Curry w/ Swiss Chard – The Crepes of Wrath (apologies in advance for that page being VERY heavy with photos. It takes forever to load completely on the iPad I use in the kitchen, but I promise the recipe is worth it!)
Pantry Check: chicken thighs, shallots, green curry paste, chili paste, ginger, coconut milk, chickpeas, swiss chard

Kale Puree (which you can use in nearly anything) – Edible Manhattan (they suggest using it in a polenta, but I love it as an alternative to tomato sauce on pasta)
Pantry Check: garlic, kale, sea salt (Maldon, ideally), extra-virgin olive oil. That’s it, really!

 

Bonus:¬†Maple-Butter Collard Greens! ¬†This is my favorite way to enjoy collards, and doesn’t require anything you don’t probably already have in your pantry. If you haven’t tried them before, give this recipe a shot! Chop collards roughly and discard stems. Slice a yellow onion and cook over medium heat¬†in a large pan with a little olive oil until they start to caramelize. Add your collards and a splash of water — you want enough water to keep the collards from burning in a dry pan, but not so much that you’re boiling or braising them. Continue cooking over medium heat for about 15 minutes. When greens are tender, set the greens aside in a bowl and wipe¬†out the pan. Add the following to the pan over medium-high heat: ¬†2 Tbs butter, 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbs maple syrup (the real stuff!). Cook while stirring, until the combined and slightly reduced to make a sauce. You can either put this on the table in a small gravy pitcher, or¬†toss the collards in the pan with the sauce before serving. This makes 2-3 servings of sauce, but you may want more.
Pantry Check: apple cider vinegar, butter, maple syrup (REAL maple syrup!)

Extra-Bonus: Magic Sauce – 101 Cookbooks (this stuff is like liquid gold… use it on eggs, pasta, potatoes, just about anything)
Pantry Check: fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, paprika, garlic, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, lemon juice