Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Swiss Chard with Feta and Pine Nuts

Today’s post is all about impulse. The impulse that led me to buy a bunch of gorgeous, glossy red Swiss chard at Whole Foods yesterday. The impulse that made me cook it up last night instead of saving it for its intended recipe later in the week. The impulse I fought to not eat the entire batch I prepared. And the impulse I had to resist when I wanted to post this recipe immediately last night but couldn’t since Stan was using the computer. So yeah, this post is dedicated to impulse. But really, when impulse drives me to buy and eat fresh, dark leafy greens, I’m not going to complain. At least it wasn’t ice cream. This time.

If impulse (or good health) hasn’t driven you to trying Swiss chard, I really recommend it. Incredibly nutritious, Swiss chard has shiny, dark green leaves attached to stems that come in an array of colors. When cooked, it has a taste somewhat similar to spinach. I like it because it does not get quite so wilted when it cooks, and you can add in the stems for a little extra crunch and color. Not as bitter as some of the other leafy greens, Swiss chard lends itself well to a number of preparations. Pair it with some crunchy pine nuts, salty feta, and spicy red pepper flakes. It just might become your favorite impulse recipe.

Swiss Chard with Feta and Pine Nuts

1 bunch Swiss chard, any color
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced into half moons
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
2 T. pine nuts *
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

* To toast pine nuts, heat them in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

Cut the stems off the Swiss chard leaves. Thinly slice the leaves into long ribbons. Cut the stems into thin slices.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the Swiss chard stems, onion, and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until the stems and onions have softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the broth or water and the Swiss chard leaves. Partially cover, and cook until the leaves have wilted but still have some body to them, about 5 minutes. (You don’t want to overcook the leaves or they will be mushy.)

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the Swiss chard and onions into a serving bowl, draining off most of the liquid. (This stuff is known as pot liquor in the South, where it is sometimes poured into a glass and treated like a spicy, vitamin-filled drink.)

Top with the toasted pine nuts and feta. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 4.

Note: This recipe is delicious as a side dish or would make a fantastic vegetarian entrée atop brown rice.

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