Friday, December 4, 2009

Blanched Greens

I am the queen of the one dish meal.  I love being able to get the starch, protein, and veggies into one bowl so I can minimize the dishes because I HATE washing dishes.  Even better than only using one bowl is only using one pot, and there’s no better way to do that than blanching your veggies!
You can blanch anything: broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, kale, zucchini, chard.  All you need is a pot of boiling water and a slotted spoon.  Sure, sure, if you want to get fancy, you can use a colander and put that right in the boiling water, but I used the spoon technique for years without dire consequences.
What’s the best part of blanching veggies?  It’s so dang easy!  If you are making pasta, just blanch the veggies before you cook the pasta (using the same water!) and voila, beautiful green goodness to add to your 15-minute weeknight dinner. 
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about nutrition just a little bit, and since I blanched Swiss chard…  Swiss chard originated in the Mediterranean region and the Greeks and Romans used its juice as a decongestant, though nowadays we just use it for its wonderful nutritional value.  This luscious green is an excellent source of vitamins C, E, and K, and carotenes, as well as magnesium, potassium and iron.  It also contains trace amounts of many, many other vitamins and minerals and is a great source of dietary fiber.
Don’t forget, when you eat foods like Swiss chard that are rich in fat-soluble vitamins such as E and K, eat them with a small amount of fat like butter or olive oil so those important vitamins get absorbed!

Blanched Swiss Chard

1 bunch Swiss chard (rainbow or otherwise)
1 pot boiling water

1.     Loosely chop chard by removing leaves from the stem and cutting leaves into one-inch wide strips. 
2.     Chop stems into a one-inch dice.
3.     Place leaves and stems directly into boiling water or into a colander placed in boiled water.
4.     Boil the chard and stems for 1-2 minutes or until they reach desired tenderness.
5.     Remove chard with slotted spoon or simply remove colander from the pot.  Run under cold water to halt cooking process.
6.     Take a handful of damp chard and press out the water.  Depending how much water you remove, you may form a tiny ball out of the chard, which is completely normal.  Just pull it apart to serve.
7.     Serve under pasta sauce or as a side with olive oil, butter, and/or Ume Plum Vinegar.
8.     Enjoy!

Serves 2-4

What other ways do you enjoy eating Swiss chard?  What are your favorite recipes and serving tips?

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