Rainbow chard has got to be one of the most colorful and exotically beautiful vegetables. The vivid pink is up there with the dragonfruit when it comes to hot-pinkness factor.
Being the ignorant Asian cook that I am, when I first received chard from my CSA I would just saute it with garlic like I do with any other leafy green. For some reason, it always came out a bit tough and didn't really taste particularly wonderful.
Lucky for me, I picked up Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking at the library this past weekend. What a wealth of information that book has! I'm seriously considering purchasing it. I love how it teaches you the true basics of Italian cooking in nice, simple detail. There are also a TON of great, classic Italian dishes.
Best yet, there was a super simple yet delicious preparation for Swiss chard. Finally, I was able to prepare it properly in a way that really brought out the flavors yet was still simple enough to throw together in a few minutes.
One basic thing I learned about chard is that the stems are significantly tougher than the leaves, and thus you really need to cook them separately. Bring a pot of water to boiling and cook the stems for 2-3 minutes. Then throw in the leaves and cook for another 7-8 minutes.
In Chinese cooking we never stir fry vegetables that long, so this longer simmering method was news to me as well.
Drain and rinse with cold water. Press out as much water as you can with the back of a spoon. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and a few squeezes of lemon.
That's it! Is that too easy or what? And it was really really nice. The lemon and salt brought out the natural flavors of the chard, and it worked as a great balancing side dish to the sous vide steaks we were having.
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