06 Jun2010

Two Ways With Chard

by Marketman

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It was a pleasure to find chard on sale on the ground floor of SM Makati. I have noticed it in stock every so often and have tried several times to find uses for the chard in the hope that they will grow more and it will become a standard options for healthy leafy greens. I still like it best in hearty soups, but here are two slightly Italian (at least in ingredients) inspired dishes…

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First I separated the leaves from the rather crisp somewhat more fibrous steams. I chopped them up into 1/4th inch pieces and ended up with a wonderful bowl filled with multicolored stems. Next, I simply blanced these in hot water for some 30-40 seconds and drained them. I buttered a small baking dish and set that aside. In a small skillet, I heated up a little bit of olive oil, added chopped guanciale or pancetta and sauteed until some of the fat was rendered. I added some chopped onion and sauteed until these were translucent and fragrant.

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Add in the chard stems and saute for a minute or two more, Mix in a hand full of grated parmesan cheese, some salt (but judiciously, the parmesan and pancetta is already salty) and freshly ground black pepper and transfer this to the buttered baking dish. Stick it in a 350F oven for some 12-15 minutes until it looks and feels done. This was quite good, an excellent side dish to some roast chicken. A great way to use up the chard stems…

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For my second chard dish, I think I got the inspiration from an Alice Waters recipe if I am not mistaken. Simply chop up the greens and set them aside. Heat up a pan over medium heat, add olive oil, some minced garlic and a few good quality anchovy fillets. The anchovy will disintegrate and form a pungent sauce. Add the greens, turn the heat up on high and saute for a few minutes until done.

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This was just edible. :( I found the greens almost too earthy, and I suspect it has to do with their growing in warm tropical conditions. I know chard is earthy and that’s normal, but this was just too earthy.

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It is an incredibly nutritious dish, but I think I would consume a healthy serving of almost any form of bitter gourd (ampalaya) instead! At any rate, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Keep your eyes out for slightly unusual vegetables like these and experiment a little. The more we buy vegetables that are a little unique in the local context, the more farmers will be encouraged to diversify their produce offerings… :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. citynavigator says:

    marketman,
    Swiss chard is also great in sinigang na baboy. When i was in Italy, I usually use Swiss chard whenever I have a craving for sinigang. It’s also great for kare-kare.

    Jun 6, 2010 | 6:21 pm

     
  2. Ken Lovell says:

    Chard is an acquired taste but I love it. The stems can be teamed with all kinds of cream, cheese or milk-based sauces to match white fish, chicken or similar. I find the leaves are best with something like sweet soy sauce, or oyster sauce. In Australia they were my first choice of green vegetable to have with grilled tuna steak and horse radish.

    I doubt that the tropical growing environment affects the flavour – if it’s too hot and humid the plants will get various fungal diseases and not be fit to eat. Like most of these leafy green vegetables it does much better in a cooler climate and I suspect the Makati supplies came from somewhere elevated. Wish they stocked it at SM North Harbour!

    Jun 6, 2010 | 7:07 pm

     
  3. Marketman says:

    Ken, these come from Davao or Bukidnon, in Mindanao. I find that certain vegetables or greens such as arugula (rocket), basil, kale, etc. do seem to taste a bit different when grown here…

    Jun 6, 2010 | 7:18 pm

     
  4. natie says:

    maybe it’s because of the rather extreme heat you had there recently, MM..i think chard would be similar to the kales and collards. they love cooler temps.

    Jun 6, 2010 | 8:55 pm

     
  5. wanda says:

    My aunt used to grow swiss chard on a farm in Cavite semi-commercially. We’ve cooked them so many ways. You can use the leaves the same way you’d use spinach (we’ve made pesto, creamed chard, etc). We’ve also mixed the leaves with gabi leaves for laing. The stalks are a bit more problematic because they do tend to be really earthy. Personally, the best way I found to use the stalks was to wash well, chop into tiny pieces, cook down a bit in salted water, and then add to any highly seasoned, big-flavored vegetable dish.

    Swiss chard is incredibly good for you, so it’s great vegetable to incorporate into your diet when possible.

    Jun 6, 2010 | 9:49 pm

     
  6. Lou says:

    My mom would saute this with shrimp and it tastes like pechay to me.

    Jun 6, 2010 | 11:38 pm

     
  7. Mel Wood says:

    I use chard – which we call silverbeet here in NZ – as substitute for taro leaves in laing, for kangkong in sinigang, for spinach in fritata, and some other dishes and soups that need some greens because it is readily available from the garden. And it’s so easy to grow.

    Jun 7, 2010 | 1:57 am

     
  8. Camille says:

    I saw the post and I’m like – thats Silverbeet! Didnt know its called also chard hehe – guess u learn something new everyday. I have some in my garden – easy to grown. I pretty much harvest some few times a week. Nice winter greens.. Yum yum!

    Jun 7, 2010 | 4:36 am

     
  9. Binshu says:

    Same with NZ, I know those veggies as Silverbeet (here in Australia). I usually use them in creamy pasta salads and braised meat. I was surprised, however, that they come in yellow and red. The red ones look like rhubarb.

    Jun 7, 2010 | 3:25 pm

     
  10. Joy says:

    My husband didn’t like it either. He just said chard tasted like dirt.

    Jun 8, 2010 | 1:29 am

     
  11. Lilibeth says:

    I use Swiss Chard and celery root for beef sinigang. These 2 vegetables makes the sinigang taste so much more delicious than the original version!

    Jun 8, 2010 | 9:22 am

     
  12. Jessica says:

    My husband grow them year round in our little garden here in Canada,they survive the winter and they starts to seed in the summer. He prefers to eat them raw, he’d eat a leaf or two with his breakfast, and I’d chop the leaves small and mix it in our veggie salad fpr dinner. If he thinks he didn’t get enough greens for the day, he’d make a green bull (red bull version ha ha), by putting several chard leaves and a cup of water in a blender and he’d drink it straight, he doesn’t care about the taste, he’s only concern about the health benefits he gets from it. Because we have so much in the garden,I freeze them also for future uses like in different soups and stirfrys…enjoy :)

    Jul 1, 2010 | 3:02 pm

     
 

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