Here is a look at my new “office,” pretty nice, huh? Last Saturday was a beautiful day to cook at the market. Sunshine, live music, tons of people, and fresh produce. Now that strawberries and chard, preferably red chard with its bright red petioles, are in season, I chose to highlight them at last Saturday’s Cooking Salon. I decided to hit my Distinguished Guests with a bit of shock and awe by showing them that you can actually eat the stems of the chard which left them all mmm-mmming and quite speechless- speechless in a good way. The dish is fantastic and no more tossing those red nutrient rich stems away.
Also cooking in the Market has made me learn to adapt. I figured out how to cook a casserole, all in one pan, without an oven, which was serendipitous in teaching my Guests how to cook all summer long without having to heat an oven. No oven, equals cool kitchen. Yay! One pan, equals less…well you know.
Chard Stems with Red Onions and Crispy Bread Topping– adapted from Vegetables Every Day
2-3 cups bread torn, day old is best- I tore mine big and rustic!
2 T. olive oil
2 T. unsalted butter
Kosher Salt to taste
12 large chard stems, one inch slices
water to cover
2 red onions, diced
2-3 T. olive oil
1/2-2/3 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil and butter until butter is melted and starting to bubble. Add bread crumbs, stirring to coat all of them in butter mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. Cook while stirring occasionally until golden brown and toasted. Watch closely as this can burn easily. Remove croutons to a plate.
In the same skillet, over high heat, add stems and just enough water to cover them. Boil 8 minutes. Do not worry if there is water still in the pan at this point, it will cook off, plus you do not want to throw that nutrient rich water away. To the same pan over medium heat, add olive oil and onions, a pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions have a nice golden brown color and are tender. Stir in cream, and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with croutons. Serve immediately. Serves about 4. Also nice over pasta, rice, or cannellini beans. Or before adding the croutons, make four small wells and crack eggs into them, cooking the eggs to your favored doneness then top with croutons.
Notes on chard stems.
1. They must be boiled to tenderize. I have tried sauteing them without first boiling and they get even tougher.
2. Stems alone taste a bit like asparagus but readily adopt the flavors of ingredients they are cooked with while remaining toothsome and colorful.
3. Two meals from one bunch of chard can be done by sauteing up the greens one day in olive oil with salt, pepper, and garlic, then the next having this Chard Stem recipe. No waste.
More about my Cooking Salon go here.