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Switch it up with Swiss chard

April 2, 2010

I dedicate this recipe to my Aunt Lana.  She is keen to give swiss chard a try as part of her healthy eating regime and was looking for some guidance.  She reads my blog religiously and buys me the best birthday gifts, so testing a few recipes on her behalf is the least I could do. 

Swiss chard with garbanzo beans & garlic. 

After reviewing and prepping this recipe from the trusty Epicurious website , I’m proposing we rename it as follows:

“GARLIC…with swiss chard and garbanzo beans”

Garbanzo Beans:

  • 2 15.5-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained (about 3 cups)
  • 10 garlic cloves peeled (Holy moley!)
  • 2 large shallots (I used a small yellow onion. I rarely have shallots on hand)
  • 3 small bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (I can’t stand black licorice, so naturally I reduced the amount.  However, I noticed the flavour of the cooked seeds was subdued) 
  • 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil (This is A LOT of oil so I would recommend cutting it down to 1/4 cup.  I used coconut oil instead)

Chard:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (again, coconut oil or butter if you have it)
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • 3 small bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 2 shallots, sliced (I used a small yellow onion)
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard (Soak and rinse well.  Chop stems into 1″ pieces. Keep separate from shredded leaves)
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth (I used half this amount because I wanted it to steam vs boil)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine first 5 ingredients for garbanzo beans in 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour oil over; cover dish with foil. Roast until garlic is tender, about 45 minutes.  P.S. I forgot to cover (shhh).

  • Heat oil in large pot over med-high heat. Add garlic, bay leaves, and shallots.  I also added the stems at this point which this recipe doesn’t call for, but I never discard them.  They’re mild crunchiness is a nice contrast to the leaves.  Plus, once the chard leaves are cooked you’re almost down to nothing.  Cover; cook until shallots (and stems) are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Uncover; add half of chard. Toss until chard wilts and volume is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

  • Add remaining chard. Toss until chard wilts, about 2 minutes.
  • Add broth. Cover and cook until chard is tender, stir occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer chard mixture to large sieve set over bowl and drain.  Discard bay leaves.
  • Drain garbanzos, leaving 2 Tbsps of oil and combine with chard in large skillet. Toss over medium heat until warmed through.

 

Pros: What I liked about this recipe is that it can serve as a full meal or hearty side dish (it was my lunch today with some Orange Chicken). Add whole grain rice to give you a complete protein when paired with chickpeas.  The garlic, although excessive, worked well with the dish.  I found myself searching through the pan for the roasted cloves when no one was looking (after which I chased with multiple pieces of gum).  And we already know the health perks from eating chickpeas.

Cons: It was a bit more time-consuming than expected.  I blame it on prepping the swiss chard – washing, wash again, then chopping.  After all that, seeing the chard shrink to less than half its size was a piss off.  Feels like you are getting ripped off after putting in all that energy.  But it is still worth it.

SWISS CHARD  – This article calls it the valedictorian of vegetables because it gets the best grades for its nutrients.   For instance, chard provides over 100% of the daily recommended intake (DRI) for Vitamins K and A along with 37% of the DRI for magnesium (the mineral known for bone health, reducing muscle tension and migraine headaches).  The ‘good grades’ also apply to the availability of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, calcium, iron and a long list of other nutrients.  So for variety, skip the spinach and go for the chard.  It has a slightly bitter flavour so cooked chard may be more enjoyable for your first try.  If you’re afraid of change and want to stick with the Popeye staple, you’re still in very good hands. Spinach beats out chard on a couple nutrients, but I would opt for cooked spinach as well because the nutrients are better absorbed.

Alright Lana.  I did enough rambling.  Give this a try and let us know if you survived the garlic.

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