02/01/2013 01:31AM ● Published by Style
WHAT’S IN SEASON NOW: SWISS CHARD!
If ever an award were given for the vegetable with the most nutrients, Swiss chard would take top honors. This tall, leafy green vegetable belongs to the same family as beets and spinach, and although it has a slightly bitter taste, Swiss chard is referred to as “greens” (along with kale, mustard and collard greens). The leaves of fresh, young chard tend to be sweeter and can be enjoyed in salads – providing color and nutrition. Whole, mature stalks are typically chopped into bite-size pieces and sautéed, or steamed for a longer period of time. Swiss chard is high in vitamins A, C and K and rich in minerals, fiber and protein.
HOW TO SERVE AND PAIR WITH LOCAL WINE:
In addition to salads, Swiss chard is also good tossed with penne pasta, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. It can add a kick to a frittata and is great in place of spinach in vegetarian lasagna. Swiss chard can be paired with a variety of local wines. In Placer County, Secret Ravine Winery’s 2010 Cabernet Franc from O’Conner Vineyard – a medium-bodied red wine – complements the vegetal nature of Swiss chard nicely, as opposed to a full-bodied richer wine. The Cabernet Franc is a softer red with a bit of spiciness and some herbaceous qualities. You could also try the Vina Castellano 2005 Unfiltered Cabernet Franc, Le Casque 2009 Cabernet Franc or the Mt. Vernon 2010 Cabernet Franc. For more information on local wine, visit placerwine.com.
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
For the best flavor, chard should be purchased chilled to ensure a crunchier texture and sweeter taste. The best chard has leaves that are bright green and don’t show any signs of browning or yellowing; they should be free from tiny holes and appear firm, not wilted. To keep chard as fresh as possible, wait to give it a good rinse until just before serving, as water can encourage spoilage.
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SWISS CHARD SOUP
Recipe courtesy of ‘The Art of Real Food’ by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 bunch chard leaves, coarsely chopped
- 3 cups stock
- 2 potatoes, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/4 pound penne pasta
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
In a large pot, heat oil and lightly sauté garlic, celery and carrots. Add chard leaves and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Add stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Add pasta, reduce heat to simmer and cook 10-15 minutes, until pasta is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with cheese. Serves 4