16 November 2010

Swiss Chard with Apples

Of all the greens I've received over the past many months from the upstate farmers, Chard is always my favorite, and the clear front runner in terms of versatility and ease of preparation. I've taken to adding torn pieces into breakfast smoothies and have experimented with substituting it for the traditional spinach in Saag Paneer, sauteing it with onions and dousing with cream for a decadent creamed chard, folding it into omelets for some extra nutritional punch on the weekends, and as a fillings for tarts and quiches.   

This simple preparation is inspired by a regular spinach side dish I frequently ordered at Jaleo in Washington, D.C., back when I worked next door, at The Shakespeare Theatre. In the days before Jose Andres was a celebrity chef, Jaleo deigned to catered the theatre's after-parties on opening nights. The spread mainly consisted of cheese and meats and the good old standby Spanish tortilla's, so on occasion I had to battle the hordes trying to get a table at the actual restaurant. If memory serves, my favorite spinach side dish was prepared with raisins and pine nuts. Simple. Delicious. 

I've substituted apples -- same idea, something sweet, something crunchy, something green and altogether a pretty way to serve the normally austere winter greens.  
Swiss Chard with Apples
Serves 2 as side

1 large bunch of Chard (about 1 pound with stems on)
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 tart apple, cored, cut into eighths and then into a small dice, about 1/2 inch pieces 
1 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper 

Remove the leaves from the stems of the chard by folding the pieces in half and pulling the leaves and stem in opposite directions.  Thoroughly wash the chard and shake water away before cutting in a rough chop. Set aside. 

In a large, dry saute pan add the pine nuts and toast very lightly on low heat, about 2 - 3 minutes tossing occasionally until barely golden (they will continue to toast with the addition of apples and chard). Add the butter and turn up the heat to medium-high, then add the apples and toss till coated with butter.  Let caramelize, tossing regularly for 3 - 4 minutes. 

Add the chard and vinegar and cover the pan for about one minute. Remove lid and turn all ingredients, mixing together nuts, apple, and chard. Cover again and turn heat down to medium-low and cook for another minute or so till the leaves are bright green and tender, but not so long that the pine nuts burn. You may at this stage need to add a bit more water to keep the greens steaming.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. 

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