One of my favorite things to do with tender greens is to cream them. When you have fresh raw cream, greens make an excellent, quick side dish. Wash the greens well by dunking in a big pan or sinkful of cold water. Chard has so many little crinkles that dirt tends to hide. After you’ve dunked and swished several times, rinse under cold running water. Fold the leaf in half length-wise and cut the stem from the leaf. Make one pile of stems and another of leaves. When you’re finished, chop the stems as you would celery and sauté with a little butter for about five minutes over medium heat. While the stems are cooking, slice the leaves crosswise into thin ribbons. Add to the pan and cover; let cook about 3 minutes. Pour in about ¼ to ⅓ cup cream and cook slowly until it reduces and becomes thick. Put a garlic clove through the garlic press and stir into the cream sauce for the last minute or so of cooking.
You can jazz up the basic recipe with chopped or sliced onions braised in butter along with the chard stems. If you like a little more garlic flavor, dice several cloves and add them to the butter along with the onions. A couple of ounces of chopped cream cheese stirred in with the cream makes it richer. Other possibilities: Sprinkle buttered bread crumbs on the top on the dish and run it through the oven to crisp and brown. Or use grated cheese. I’ve used jack, mozzarella and Parmesan, alone or in combination, to good effect. Again, put the dish into the oven (or under the broiler) so the cheese is fully melted and begins to brown slightly.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 large or 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/2 small head green or savoy cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
- 6 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 quarts water or chicken broth2 boiling potatoes, diced
- 1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes, with liquid, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1 (2 1/2 x1 1/2-inch) piece Parmesan rind
- 1/2 bay leaf
- Few sprigs each thyme and parsley2 cups cooked cannellini or Great Northern beans (soak overnight, then cook in water for about two hours)
- 1/4 pound Swiss chard, stemmed, washed well and chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup pasta, such as elbow macaroni, small shells or broken spaghetti
- 1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 pound fresh shelled beans1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Chard is THE classic green to add to minestrone soup. The best recipe for minestrone I’ve ever tasted is this one from Martha Rose Shulman’s cookbook, Mediterranean Light. She uses a Parmesan rind when making the broth to give her soup extra flavor. Although she made it with water, I can tell you it will have a much richer flavor if you use chicken broth.
Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven and add the onions. Cook, stirring, until they begin to soften. Add the leeks. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender and translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and a generous pinch of salt, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and the garlic, add a little more salt, and cook until the cabbage has wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the water, potatoes, canned tomatoes with liquid and oregano. Bring to a boil. Tie the Parmesan rind, bay leaf, thyme and parsley sprigs together with kitchen string, or tie in cheesecloth, and add to the pot. Add salt to taste (at least 2 teaspoons), reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Stir the cooked beans into the soup, then add the greens and the pasta. Five minutes later, add the peas, shell and green beans. Simmer until the pasta is cooked al dente, about five minutes more. Remove the Parmesan rind bundle, stir in the chopped parsley and remove from the heat. Serve in wide soup bowls, with a tablespoon of Parmesan sprinkled over the top.
Zuppa Con L’Osso del Prosciutto (Soup with Ham Bone)
- Ham bone with meat
- 3/4 pound chard, spinach or kale
- 2 medium-sized carrots1 medium-sized onion
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 rib celery
- 3/4 pound dried white beans
- 14 Oz can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 pound day-old Tuscan or any coarse country-style bread
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
Pick over bones to remove gristle or fat. Bring a pot of water to boil, turn off the burner, immerse bones, and leave to soak overnight. Soak beans too, in cold water. Drain beans and refill with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for an hour, change the water and return the pot to the fire. Meanwhile, simmer beans for about a half hour. Finely chop remaining vegetables. Once the bone water comes back to a boil, stir in chopped vegetables and beans. Simmer for 3-4 hours. Fish out bones, pick away meat and set it aside. Thinly slice the bread and lay it down in a heat-proof dish, alternating it with layers of soup and ham pickings, and sprinkling everything generously with the Parmigiano.
Swiss Chard and Arugula Ravioli Nudi in Simple Tomato Sauce
- 1 lb Swiss chard, stems removed and reserved for another use (see cook’s note), leaves shredded
- 8 oz fresh spinach leaves12 oz fresh sheep’s milk or well-drained cow’s milk ricotta cheese
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 3⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1⁄4 cup flour, plus more for coating the nudi
- 3 cups fresh tomato sauce, simple tomato sauce, or small-batch tomato sauce, heated to a simmer
Rinse the shredded chard leaves in cold water. Place the leaves, with the water still clinging to them, into a large saucepan, cover, and set the pan over medium heat. Cook the chard, tossing it from time to time, for 12 to 15 minutes, until tender and most of the water has evaporated. Turn off the heat, and using tongs, transfer the chard to a colander and let it cool. Rinse out the saucepan and return it to the stove. Rinse the spinach leaves in cold water. Place the leaves, with the water still clinging to them, into the saucepan, cover, and set the pan over medium heat. Cook the spinach, tossing it from time to time with tongs, for 5 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat and transfer to the colander with the chard to cool. When the greens are cool enough to handle, squeeze as much excess water from them as you can. Transfer them to a cutting board and chop finely. You should end up with about 1 packed cup of freshly chopped greens weighing between 7 and 8 oz. Place the greens in a large bowl and add the ricotta, 1⁄2 tsp salt, a generous grinding of pepper, the nutmeg, the Parmigiano, and the egg yolks. Mix together gently but thoroughly. Sprinkle in the flour, and gently fold it into the mixture. Pour some flour into a small shallow bowl. Have ready a large rimmed baking sheet lined with waxed paper or dusted with flour. With your hands, pinch off a piece of the greens mixture, form it into a ball about the size of a chestnut, roll it in the flour, and set it on the baking sheet. Continue to form the nudi until you have used all of the greens mixture. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and salt generously. Carefully drop in 8 to 10 nudi. Within 1 or 2 minutes, they will begin to float to the surface. Continue to cook the nudi for another 5 to 6 minutes, until they have floated to the surface and are puffed up. With a large skimmer, remove the nudi and transfer them to a warmed serving bowl. Spoon about 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the nudi and mix very gently. Continue to cook the nudi until you have cooked them all. When they have all been added to the serving bowl, spoon additional sauce over the top and sprinkle with Parmigiano. Serve immediately.