Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not Giving Up Yet

If I was judging by its beauty alone, it would one of my favorite vegetables. I love the contrast of the dark green leaves and the neon pink stem. I can practically see the vitamins and minerals inside.

But unlike looking at a million other pretty vegetables, I fail to get excited about chard. Instead finding a way to cook it seems like work. So last week when I opened my box and saw it inside, I did a silent groan inside. What was I going to do with that?

The answer is usually the same – soup. But having just had two weeks of soup, I had to stretch a bit further. After momentarily considering putting it in a vase on the kitchen table, I decided I was up to the challenge. After all, I only have a few more weeks of vegetables left. Finding out how to love vegetables I never knew I could is part of the fun of having a CSA share. I couldn’t turn back now.

While it wasn’t exactly inspirational, an idea came to me quite quickly. I was using up some flatbread and making a personal pan pizza when the chard caught my eye poking out of the crisper drawer. I’m a big fan of spinach on pizza, so why not chard? I started by topping my crust with a Laughing Cow cheese spread before adding tomato sauce. On top of that I added the chard (minus the stem), Kalamata olives, a bit of fresh mozzarella and blue cheese sprinkles. I know it sounds a little heavy on the cheese, but I’m from Wisconsin, so I’m used to it. The cheese blend went nicely with the bitter chard and salty olives.

For the rest of the chard I made Stuffed Swiss Chard from my Bon Appétit Vegetables cookbook. Similar to cabbage rolls, rice and vegetables are wrapped inside the chard and then cooked in tomato sauce. The stuffing included brown rice, onions, garlic, parsley, cabbage and mushrooms. I had cabbage to use from my CSA box, making the recipe a two-fer.

After steaming the chard to make it pliable, I wrapped it around a couple teaspoons of the stuffing before cooking the little green and pink packages in tomato sauce. The secret ingredient in the sauce was cinnamon, which made the kitchen smell a little exotic. The stuffed chard was topped with feta cheese, which went well with the cinnamon-tomato sauce.

Overall, the recipe was a success, except for the fact that I added too much parsley. It overpowered everything else, and reminded me that I don’t really like parsley. But then again, maybe I just haven’t found the right recipe yet. I’m beginning to see the beauty in all vegetables.

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