Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Got Chard? Chiffonade!

Although kale dominates the leafy green spotlight these days, chard deserves equal attention for its delicate flavor, plentiful nutrients and versatility.  Red, yellow and white stemmed chard are now in season; all make excellent eating. Simplicity of preparation is key to bringing out chard's unique qualities.

A sharp knife and a little dexterity are all that are required to create a chiffonade. (The word is French for "rags"). This technique is useful for preparing many leafy greens such as cabbage, collards, bok choy, arugula, mustard greens and of course, kale. Thinly sliced greens cook quickly and are pleasing to the eye and palate.

Chiffonade of Chard With Leek:

1 bunch fresh chard, cut into chiffonade
2- 3 tablespoons leek, white and green part, cut into chiffonade
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt to taste


Wash chard leaves and shake off excess moisture. Don't discard the chard stems! Cut the stems away from the leaf, trim any rough ends and dice.  They will add texture and color to the dish.

Stack chard leaves and roll into a cylinder. Place the rolled up leaves on a cutting board. While holding the cylinder securely with one hand, carefully slice crosswise as thinly as possible. The finer the chiffonade ribbons are cut the more quickly the chard will cook.

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the chard stems and leek and saute, stirring gently for a minute or two until leek is fragrant. Add chard leaves and continue to saute on medium heat until chard is just tender. This should take another two or three minutes, depending on how finely sliced the leaves are. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste, toss and remove from heat. A medium bunch of chard will yield roughly two servings.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve chard warm or at room temperature.  If desired, garnish with freshly ground black pepper, or a handful of toasted almonds, pine nuts or sunflower seeds.

The chiffonade may be prepared ahead of time; it will keep well for a few days in the fridge.  It's a great addition to home cooked lentils or black beans.  For a complete meal in a bowl, heat the legumes and top each individual serving with a few tablespoons of chiffonade.