Warm Chard Salad

Chard is a beauty on the plate and in the garden!

Enjoy a Different Salad with Chard — a Garden Virtuoso.

This is a warm chard salad, a classic Greco-Roman dish graced with only a few ingredients: just olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and feta cheese. And it pops!
This dish stands as a side or becomes the base of a Mediterranean main course with just a few add-ons.

My favorite cooked green has to be chard. First, it’s downright pretty—both in the garden and on the plate. The broad leaf has a spinach-like texture and flavor, but also includes a stalk—like celery. Both parts are used in this recipe. Oddly, the Europeans favor just the stalk, and here in the USA we favor the leaf.

Chard is a member of the beet family. It’s easy to grow and doubles as a multi-hued wonder in the flower bed, too.

Chard is a member of the beet family. It’s easy to grow and doubles as a multi-hued wonder in the flower bed, too.
You can also harvest the young leaves as part of a raw salad. Chard grows steadfastly from spring into early winter. It’s a long-distance thoroughbred in my garden.

SHOPPING:

Look for shiny, crinkly leaves with stalks no wider than thumb-sized. Skip the ones with extra wide stalks—they might be too stringy. They are sold in bunches, usually one is good for 4-6 diners. Like spinach the leaves cook way down and intensify their rich flavor.
There are several chard varieties: white (Swiss) chard, red, golden, or rainbow (all three colors mixed).

PREPPING:

Separating the leaf from the stalk is rather cool. Here’s how: grasp the bottom of the stalk and with the other hand form a ring using your thumb and index finger placed around the base of the stalk. Then gently pull the stalk from the bottom so the leaf separates from the stalk at the “ring.”
Stack the leaves flat on the cutting board as you proceed.

Separate stems from leaves
Separate stems from leaves

Then, cut the leaves into 2-inch squares. Add them to a salad spinner and soak, then spin slightly. We want a little water to cling to the leaves.

Sliced chard leaves in 1" pieces
Slice leaves into pieces

Next, slice the stems into one-inch pieces. I like to use an angle cut for a more interesting diamond shape. Soak the stems in the salad spinner and then give them a good spin to get them dry; so they will brown more easily.

sliced chard leaf stems
Rainbow chard variety yields a colorful dish

RECIPE FOR CHARD SALAD:

chard, 1 bunch
olive oil, 2 TBS.
garlic, fresh, 1 tsp., (2 cloves), minced
lemon juice, 2 TBS., (1/2 lemon)
feta cheese, 1/2 c.
salt, 1/4 tsp.
pepper, 1/8 tsp.
red pepper flakes, 1/8 tsp., (optional)

ingredients for sauteed chard salad
Just a few ingredients produces a classic salad

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large skillet add the olive oil, garlic, and chard stems. Turn on heat to medium and when garlic begins to sizzle, sauté for a couple minutes. Add the chopped leaves and place on cover. Lower heat to medium-low and cook 4-5 minutes until leaves have wilted. Don’t over cook. Taste a leaf to determine if tender. You want just a little bite. Add the lemon juice, feta cheese, salt and pepper. Toss and serve or keep warm.

cover chard to steam for a few minutes
Cover to steam a few minutes

FROM SIDE TO MAIN COURSE:

Warm Chard Salad can be a keystone planned-over. “Planned-over” is my definition for intentional leftovers. When I see a fresh bunch of chard, my mouth waters.

• Reheat salad and toss with chunks of tuna and a little cooked pasta
• Grill or poach salmon, chicken, or mushrooms and lay on a bed of reheated salad
• Reheat and top with a poached egg and some diced ham or bacon
• Combine beaten eggs with leftover chard to make a frittata (scrambled egg dish)

MASTERY EN PLACE: Sautéing Garlic without Burning

Adding garlic to a hot pan is usually dicey. How hot is the pan? Will it burn before it is cooked through? Should I add it later in the sautéing? This recipe is one instance where you don’t have to guess. Adding garlic to a cold pan ensures that it gently heats up and then sautés without burning. As long as some liquid is going into the pan early in a sauté, you can start with a cold pan method.
Otherwise, when adding garlic to a hot skillet when liquid is not forthcoming, it is better to add it later, as in a stir fry. I prefer to add it near the end, just before adding the sauce.
If your garlic burns in the pan, it is best to remove and start again.

IN•CITE

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” — Doug Larson

© Bill Hettig, billhettig@mac.com

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