As summer nears its end with Labor Day, there is a spectacular bounty at our local farmers’ market. Less so in our neighborhood. We have already run out of recipes for zucchini from our neighbors while our little vegetable garden is limited to herbs and chard. The chard, however, is luxuriant with succulent green leaves and bright red stalks.
A few days ago I harvested some of the chard, and then my wife made a recipe out of Deborah Madison’s excellent and encyclopedic Tenth Anniversary Edition of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Broadway Books, New York, 2007. The preparation is easy, and the cilantro provides a novel balance to the flavor of the chard. Of course, summer is the perfect time for fresh corn on the cob as well. That plus a slice of ham makes a real East Texas mid-day dinner. The only thing missing is the dinner bell.
My thought about chard is that like many greens, it can be bitter. You can overcome that shortcoming and brighten the flavor with the addition of fresh lemon juice and a little sugar. Whether or not you make these additions, long slow cooking is important, and you should plan to use both the leaves and the stems in any preparation.
Braised Chard with Cilantro
- 2 pounds chard leaves
- 1½ cups chard stems, diced
- 1 onion, finely diced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 clove garlic, made into paste with 1 teaspoon salt
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup water
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large heavy pot with tight lid, combine all ingredients.
- Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and cook over low heat for 45 minutes.
- Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.