Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Red & White Chard with Tahini Sauce



Ah, swiss chard. One of those lovely "not quite spinach" leafy greens. Although it was a latecomer to our house when I was growing up, once we started replacing spinach with it in our recipes, we've barely looked back. Although it has a lovely flavor unto itself, the stems, so often thrown away, are where it's at. Unlike spinach, where the tiny little stems have barely any punch themselves, it's hard to miss a chard stem. Cooking them just takes a minute more than the leaves themselves and can add a great variation on texture to your dish, with all the lovely nutrients of the leaves.

This particular dish is all about textures. You have the blanched leaves of the chard (two colors none the less! Although you're welcome to simplify and go with either red or white), the stems, the thick yogurt sauce, and the little zings of pine nuts. If I could, I would put pine nuts in everything (and probably go broke in about 2 weeks- the little suckers are expensive!), but here, they balance out the leafiness of the chard and the heaviness of the yogurt sauce so very very well. Theoretically, you could throw these in, skipping the additional cooking step, but I don't recommend it. Just giving them a little color in the pan really elevates their flavor- they will pop through everything else so much more. And, as it's such a simple dish already, why skip over it?

Serves: 2-4 as a side dish (works great with salmon, as you can see!)

Ingredients

4 tbsp tahini paste

5 tbsp Greek yogurt (plain); although I find any thick plain yogurt works here (Skyr, which is increasingly available is also great to use)

3 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed if possible)

2 tbsp water

2 bunches of Swiss Chard (I went with one bunch each of red and white, either will work just fine on their own if you can't find one of the colors)

4 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

6 tbsp pine nuts

4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tbsp paprika

salt and black pepper, to taste


Method

Make the yogurt sauce first. Combine the tahini, the yogurt, the lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic, a pinch of salt, and the water in a medium bowl. Whisk thoroughly until the ingredients come together in a smooth paste. Set aside.

With a sharp knife, cut the chard (including the stems) into wide strips, about 1 inch wide. Separate the stems from the leaves.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil & add the stems. Simmer for about 3 minutes, then remove to a colander. Run cold water over the stems to rinse well.

Add the leaves to the boiling water (you may have to do this in batches). Simmer for about a minute, until the leaves have become bright green and collapsed in the water. Remove them also to a colander and rinse well with cold water.

Drain the water from the stems and leaves as much as you can. You want them as dry as possible, but a little moisture won't hurt them for the next step.

Put 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan and place over medium heat. Once warm, add the pine nuts- stirring them until golden, about 3 minutes.

Remove them from the pan (a slotted spoon works best for this) and add 3 cloves of garlic to the pan.  Cook for about a minute or until golden.

Carefully and slowly, add in the wine- if you add this all at once, the sauce you are making may split. Once added, let the mixture reduce to about a third.

Return the chard (leaves & stems) and the other 2 tbsp of butter, and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the chard is warm. Add the paprika, salt and black pepper.

For serving, you can put all the chard and the pine nuts in a serving bowl and then top with the yogurt sauce. Or, you can divide the chard into individual bowls, letting each person add the pine nuts and yogurt for themselves. Either way, it's absolutely delicious!




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