Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nose to Tail: Rainbow Chard

Nose to tail means using every part of the animal—not just the prime cuts—from the nose to the tail, and everything in between. Similarly, you can try to make the most of your produce by using pieces you would normally toss out. 

I've been getting a new bunch of greens—chard, kale, collards—in my CSA every week. While I love tossing braised greens in a bowl of quinoa and topping with a fried egg, or throwing them into a soup, Evan despises them. I've been trying to come up with something new, especially for the rainbow chard, that he would also enjoy eating. I think this is the best way to get him to keep picking up the CSA box for me every Tuesday.  

I wanted to do something fun with the leaves, and also with the vibrant rainbow stems that I usually toss out. I know that you can use rainbow chard stems in pretty much any recipe you use the leaves, but I'm generally not looking for that solid crunch in the dishes I make with greens, so in the garbage they go. 

With my latest bunch of rainbow chard, I decided to make chips with the leaves, like kale chips, and to do a quick pickle with the stems. This was an awesome idea, because you get two different snacks with one bunch of rainbow chard. One salty, crispy snack, and one tangy, crunchy one.  

Chard Chips

1 bunch rainbow chard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 squeeze fresh lime juice
Pinch cumin
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together oil, lime juice, and cumin. Rinse and dry chard leaves, and remove the center stems (set aside stems). Cut each leaf into large pieces and toss with olive oil mixture. Arrange leaves in a single layer (not touching) on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. I actually did several rounds, because I didn't want too many sheets creating steam in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp. I checked them after about 6 minutes and flipped them. Move to a rack to cool. 

Quick Pickled Chard Stems
Stems from one bunch of chard should make one to two 1/2 pint jars. You should make enough brine to completely cover stems, so you may need to adjust amounts based on how many you have. This made one 4oz jar, with about a half cup of brine left over. PS. this brine tastes so amazing I had a hard time not just drinking it straight out of the saucepan.  
Stems from 1 bunch rainbow chard
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vinegar (I used a mix of rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
2 cardamom pods, gently smashed

Cut stems into equal size matchsticks, the height of your small jar (or, just into pieces that all fit in your jar). In a saucepan, whisk together everything except the chard, and bring to a boil. Pour brine over stems to cover, and let sit to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, cover and place in fridge. Let brine at least over night to soak up the flavors, and eat within a week. 
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