Sharing the wealth: Swiss Chard with Garbanzos, Tomato and Corn Salad, Pasta with Beet Greens Recipe
It begins with amending the soil in September—manure, barn bedding or leaves—then in the spring comes the rototilling (If you're lucky) or the calorie-burning garden spade method, then more tilling, seed planting, fertilizing, staking, weeding, watering and finally the summer triumph of the harvest. All those glorious vegetables piled high in baskets: ruby red beets, firm, shiny zucchini (that don't bend like limp wrists), carrots that smell of dirt (in a good way), waxy, red potatoes, and glorious slender green beans.
Unfortunately, for the lazy at heart, all that success earned by hard work breeds more work. With that basket full of vegetables comes dirt clumps, hairy roots, countless peels and the question, "What will we do with all this?" When Bob and I had a big garden on Vashon, at the end of a long, summer day sweet Bob would triumphantly lay a big basket of earthy vegetables at my feet with a proud thump. Then would come the washing, trimming, slicing, simmering, stewing, canning, and freezing.
One year we grew enough tomatoes (it was an unusual Puget Sound summer), onions, basil, oregano, and garlic to make our own tomato sauce. We bought two hot plates from Granny's and filled every available burner with simmering pans of spaghetti sauce. It took nearly three days to produce twenty-six quarts. I've since come to my senses and use a Costco's #10 can of diced tomatoes in juice (at $2.79 per can) to fill one pot that produces five pints—far less grand, but more doable.
Yesterday Ginny gave me some of her bounty—a sack full of swiss chard, beautiful yellow beans, small orange cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. She did all the hard work and shared her success. Here are a few ways I used that summer reward.
Garbanzos and Swiss Chard in the Style of the Tunisian Sahel (as served by Nancy one summer's day)
Recipe from: Mediterranean Cooking, by Paula Wolfert
- 3/4 pound Swiss chard leaves, stemmed, rinsed and torn into large pieces
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 small dried red chile
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 cup cooked garbanzos, with 3/4 cup cooking liquid
- 1 lemon, cut in wedges, optional
In pot steam, parboil or microwave chard leaves until tender, about 5 minutes. Set leaves in colander to drain. Squeeze out excess moisture and shred coarsely. Crush garlic in mortar with salt, coriander and chile until thick, crumbly paste forms.
Heat olive oil in 10-inch skillet and sauté onion until pale-golden. Add garlic paste and tomato paste and stir into oil until sizzling. Add chard, garbanzos and cooking liquid and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until ready to serve.(Contents of skillet should be very moist but not soupy.For looser texture, stir in more garbanzo cooking liquid.)
Serve warm, at room temperature or cold with lemon wedges.
Here's a recipe for a summer salad from New York Times food writer, Mark Bittman.
Pan-Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad
1/4 pound bacon, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
4 to 6 ears corn, stripped of their kernels (2 to 3 cups)
Juice of 1 lime, or more to taste
2 cups cored and chopped tomatoes
1 medium ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
2 fresh small chilies, like Thai, seeded and minced
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, more or less.
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to render fat; add onion and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes, then add corn. Continue cooking, stirring or shaking pan occasionally, until corn begins to brown a bit, about 5 more minutes; remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Drain fat if you wish.
Put lime juice in a large bowl and add bacon-corn mixture; then toss with remaining ingredients. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 4 servings
Pasta with Beets or Swiss Chard and Parmesan
2 slices bacon, sliced into small batons
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 good-sized bunch of Swiss chard—cut stems off leaves, cut into small pieces, and reserve
Cut chard leaves vertically in half, then horizontally in large slices
1/2 cup white wine or 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup cream, half-and-half, evaporated milk, or coconut milk (pretty much whatever white liquid you can find)
Fresh pasta (dry works just fine but is not as soft and creamy)
1 ladle pasta water
Cook bacon until just done—but not brown and crispy. Pour off bacon fat. Add olive oil to bacon and heat until medium hot. Sauté onion and chili flakes for 1-2 minutes, or until onions are translucent but not brown. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add chopped chard stems and sauté until soft. Deglaze pan with wine or lemon juice, reduce until syrupy. Add chicken stock, reduce by 1/3. Add cream, etc. and simmer 2-3 minutes. Add chopped chard leaves. Cover pan, simmer 5 minutes or until chard is tender.
Boil salted water for fresh pasta. Cook pasta until done to your taste. I'm not a huge fan of al dente.
Add one ladle of pasta water to sauce and bring to high heat for a few minutes.
Add some kind of softish cheese to sauce—goat cheese, feta cheese, fresh mozzarella works but is a bit stringy.
Drain pasta and season with a little olive oil, black pepper (a fair amount), a teense of red wine vinegar, and Parmesan cheese. Add sauce with chard and soft cheese to hot pasta. Toss and serve.
This recipe is also killer with roasted beets (skins off) and beet greens.