The Pick-Up: Week 1 CSA Challenge: Getting to know Swiss Chard

(Catherine Mallette )
June 13, 2013|By Catherine Mallette, The Baltimore Sun

In the middle of spin class this morning, I went into a bit of a panic. I still had a big bag of Swish chard, a big bag of mixed lettuces and a half a bag of spinach left in the fridge. And the next pick-up was just two days away!

I decided to tackle the Swiss chard despite the fact that when I mentioned it the other day to a bunch of people who love vegetables, they immediately said something to the effect of "ick."

I found a recipe -- again from Everyday Food (my index was still sitting on the kitchen counter and it seemed the fastest thing to do). This one used both the stalks and the leaves, which seemed like a good thing because the big compost pail Farmer Emma lent us was already full. Plus, I had everything on hand.

It was 7:30 in the in the morning but I dove right in to the cooking, figuring we could have the pasta for lunch and then I could move on to kale for dinner. But with the piping hot bowl of pasta in front of me by about 8:30, I decided just to eat it for breakfast. Why the heck not. And it was extremely tasty. (My husband and I both gave this dish a solid A.)

I'm not sure how much Swiss chard I used (the EF recipe said to use 1 1/2 pounds -- I just used a big bag). In retrospect, I probably could have thrown in the half bag of spinach, too, and maybe I'll try that if I have both those leafy greens on hand again soon. I also figured I might be able to substitute garlic scapes for the garlic clove, so that would be a way to use three CSA ingredients in one dish.

The EF recipe called for a slice of white sandwich bread -- I substituted 2 pieces of Pepperidge Farm's 40 calorie per slice bread because that's what we had on hand. One slice was white bread and the other whole wheat. I think this gave it a little more nutritional value, and taste-wise, the breadcrumbs I made were delicious. I also used Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rather than Parmesan.

Here are the details.


Serves 4

Coarse salt and pepper

1 garlic clove

2 slices 40-calorie thin bread, one white and one whole-wheat

2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3 tablespoons butter

12 ounces gemelli (or short, twisted pasta of your choice)

1 red onion, sliced thinly

1 big bag Swiss chard (mine was the Rainbow variety, with a mix of white, red and yellow stalks)

1 to 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used pinot grigio vinegar)

1. Cut chard stalks crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Tear chard leaves into 2-inch pices. Keep in seaparate piles.

2. Fill a large pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Get out the food processor. Pulse garlic to a fine chop. Add bread and cheese, salt and pepper. Pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat and add the crumbs, tossing for about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a bowl. Set aside. Wipe the skillet clean.

3. When water starts boiling, add pasta and cook according to directions on package. Before you drain pasta in a colander. reserve about a half cup of pasta water. After you drain the pasta, put it back in the pot. Set aside.

4. While pasta cooks, melt 1 tablespoon butter in the cleaned skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes. Add chard stalks and pasta water and cook about 4 minutes, stirring often. Add chard leaves and cook until 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Start by stirring in 1 tablespoon and then add more to taste.

5. Stir chard mixture and 1 tablespoon butter into the pasta. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls and then top with the breadcrumbs you'd set aside.

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