Produce trio: rainbow chard

I am a big fan of bitter greens salads, and I love spinach, but the heavier greens, kale and chard…not as much a fan, actually. I thought this post would be a much harder one than it is. Instead it nearly wrote itself. Hurrah go chard. Does this mean I will be buying a lot of chard from here on out? Well, no. I am not the only person eating in this house, and other people…are not as sold on chard as I am.

(Which is a good reminder: you do not have to like things. You are not less of a grown-up, less healthy, less responsible, whatever, if there is a particular type of food you don’t enjoy. You are not morally obligated to eat chard. Pretty much every form of food has nutrients that are also found in other foods. It’s good to be open-minded, but choking down food you hate is not the same thing as open-minded and wins you no good-kid points. End of aside; on to the chard.)

1. Charred chard (chard chips). Cut your chard off the central stalk of each leaf. You do not want that stalk really. Cut it into manageable pieces. Toss these pieces with either a tiny bit of olive oil and sea salt or a tiny bit of peanut oil and sugar, depending on which direction you want the taste to go. Bake on a foil-covered cookie sheet, 350 F for 30 minutes. The foil is important. You really want to be able to just dispose of any recalcitrant charred chard, rather than losing three nails and a finger scrubbing it off. This will be crispy and crunchy. Just eat it, it’s good.

2. Chard frittata. Again, cut the chard off the central stalk of each leaf. The word of the week is “chiffonade”: take those leaves and pile them up and roll them up, then cut into thin little strips. In an oven-safe skillet (or transfer to a different dish later, I guess), take a small amount of whatever fat you like for this sort of thing (anything from olive oil to butter to bacon fat will do) and cook up some garlic. Add the chard and saute until wilted. Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Pour a mixture of beaten eggs, a dollop of milk, and shredded manchego. Bake in a moderate oven until firm. (How many eggs will depend on what size your pan is and how much other stuff you have in it. I’ve done this sort of thing with up to a dozen eggs, which took about 40 minutes with the particular mix of vegetables I had in that frittata. That was a lot of egg. Probably you want fewer eggs than that.) (Oh, and “a moderate oven” is 350 F, usually.)

3. Brown butter solves everything. Do the same chiffonade stuff as above. Start a lump of butter melting in your skillet. Cook until it is fragrant and brown, stirring to keep the little browned butter bits circulating. (Five to seven minutes, maybe? But it’s totally worth the time.) Only once you have brown butter should you add the chard, and also some fresh sage if you have it. Wilt the chard. Add cooked whole wheat pasta (I used rotini, which worked great), dried sour cherries, toasted hazelnuts, and maybe some grated Asiago if you feel like it. Stir to coat. Eat. Feel smug.

Note for all of these: Chard cooks down. Like, a lot. So if you are not experienced with cooking greens, use more than you think you’ll want.

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