Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts


18 Feb Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts

I fall easily into a vegetable rut. If it weren’t for this blog I’d happily get my daily quota of greens from string beans, broccoli and mesclun mix salad. I once ate Basil and Walnut Green Beans every night for a week.  When I stopped I swear, the stock for California walnuts plummeted.

But I have promised you a vegetable dish a week in 2010. That’s 52 distinct recipes. Since I can’t come up with that many variations with only three base ingredients, I am branching into scary territory. Swiss chard.

And I’m pleased to report it’s not all that scary. I feared it would be slimy or bitter or boring. It was none of these.

As luck would have it, a copy of Everday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast by the good people at Martha Stewart Living arrived just in time for me to fulfill my vegetable obligations. Make fun of Martha all you want, but when she decides to do something, she does it well. This book is no exception. No chi-chi recipes for wedding cakes, truffles or finicky hors d’oeuvres that will take the better part of a week to make. Just simple recipes, fresh ingredients and delicious results. Even the photography is clean and simple — but beautiful.

This dish was one of four Winter Vegetable dishes offered on a single page. While all looked enticing, I tackled Swiss chard because I can’t say no to the combination of garlic, balsamic vinegar and nuts. Each winter vegetable recipe required six ingredients (or fewer) and nothing more exotic than pine nuts. And it’s within an everyday budget. You won’t be forced to visit six specialty shops and the bank for a second mortgage. Best of all,  I had the chard plated and ready for the camera in about 15 minutes.

And after the shoot? I ate the entire dish myself. I used Thompson raisins instead of golden simply because that’s what I had on hand. But the dish didn’t seem to suffer for my substitution.

Do vegetables stump you? If so, what sort of recipes would you like me to tackle? If not, care to share your favourite side dishes? Feel free to post links  to recipes if you have them.

Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Excerpt printed with permission. From Everday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast by Martha Stewart Living (Clarkson Potter, 2010)

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 pounds Swiss Chard (2 bunches), tough stems trimmed, stalks cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (keep stalks and leaves separate)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Wash and drain chard, leaving some water clinging to stalks and leaves. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add chard stalks, and cook until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add chard leaves, raisins and garlic. Cover, and reduce to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender, 6 to 10 minutes. Pour off excess liquid from pan. Add vinegar and pine nuts, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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  • Robin Smart
    Posted at 18:43h, 18 February Reply

    I think this looks good enough to bring to the next family potluck. I would help you eat the whole pot.

  • arugulove
    Posted at 22:11h, 18 February Reply

    Mmm…looks great. I often order a version of this dish with spinach at tapas restaurants. Great idea using chard!
    .-= arugulove´s last blog ..Pizza with Broccoli Rabe, Lemon, and Goat Cheese =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 07:52h, 19 February Reply

      @arugulove, I bet this would be lovely with baby spinach. Thanks for the substitution suggestion.

  • Cheryl@5secondrule
    Posted at 00:05h, 19 February Reply

    Stunning pictures, Ms. C! Try kale next. I bet the same flavor combo would work equally well.

    You do realize, too, that if you keep cooking and eating greens, you’ll get to have an extra helping of dessert. It’s a well-known fact.
    .-= Cheryl@5secondrule´s last blog ..Soda =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 07:54h, 19 February Reply

      @Cheryl@5secondrule, I actually have some kale in the fridge and thought I’d try tackling that next. Embarrassingly enough, I’ve never cooked kale before. I’ve eaten it, but never cooked it.

      I think I read the same study about the required greens-to-dessert ratio. I believe this works best if the dessert contains chocolate. Thanks for the reminder (as if I need it!)

  • Na
    Posted at 07:17h, 20 February Reply

    j’ai fait cette recette hier soir et c’est un vrai régal !
    merci beaucoup .

  • Joseph Lavoie
    Posted at 11:54h, 22 February Reply

    Hi Christie,

    Your food photography is awesome. Have you ever considered writing a post with food photography tips in it for those of us struggling to get good pics?
    .-= Joseph Lavoie´s last blog ..Café Review: Sophie Mon Petit Café =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 22:53h, 22 February Reply

      @Joseph Lavoie, thanks so much for your encouragement! I’m always struggling with my shots, but am glad to share what I know. Any area that’s challenging you in particular? Let me know and I’ll put something together.

      • Joseph Lavoie
        Posted at 08:20h, 23 February Reply

        @Charmian Christie, well my problem is that I do most of my cooking in the evening, which forces me to take pictures in artificial light. I never use flash and I always post-produce in Photoshop, but they still look dull. If you’ve got tips for shooting in artificial light, that’d be awesome!
        .-= Joseph Lavoie´s last blog ..Café Review: Sophie Mon Petit Café =-.

        • Charmian Christie
          Posted at 16:12h, 23 February Reply

          @Joseph Lavoie, Ah! That’s an issue for me too in the winter. I’ll experiment a bit and post about it once I have worked out a few issues. I’m sure other readers have tips too. So maybe between us, we’ll figure this out!

  • Lori Desormeaux
    Posted at 19:55h, 22 February Reply

    Kale is something I know I should eat-and it looks wonderful at the market but I have no idea how to cook it and I have the idea in my head kale is going to be bitter….

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 22:54h, 22 February Reply

      @Lori Desormeaux, well, we’ll just have to find out how bitter kale is! I’ll get back to you as soon as I can on this.

  • Lydia
    Posted at 16:50h, 21 June Reply

    This recipe is making me drool!!! Our farmer friends just passed on a HUGE bag of Swiss chard to us, and I may just have to use it all on this recipe!

    In your opinion, would the recipe still be delicious with walnuts to replace the pine nuts?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:35h, 28 June Reply

      I love walnuts and think this would be a lovely substitution. Hope you enjoyed your bounty of Swiss chard. Aren’t neighbours who garden great?

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