I haven’t played around with cooking vegetables too much in the past- I might roast them or drizzle with extra olive oil but rarely do I provide them with enough excitement to award them a dinner plate of their own. Enter rainbow chard. When it comes to greens, chard is my favourite; second only to spinach. It comes a close second only because a/ it’s not as versatile as spinach as in you wouldn’t want to eat it raw and it takes longer to cook and b/ because it requires more cleaning which amounts to more effort, which is something that I lack come 5pm. But having said that this dish really requires minimal effort as there’s very little to it- perfect for after work when you crave a bowlful of health that doesn’t call for iceburg lettuce or tofu.
It also uses up mostly ingredients that I designate a essentials in my home stores. You know the one’s: olive oil, garlic, lemons, anchovies, capers and birds eye chilies- all little ingredients that offer a whopping blast of flavour. And only having to go out to buy one ingredient makes me feel rather smug. In fact, it used up so many of my essential ingredients that trying to name this dish became somewhat of an annoyance. How to sell a plate of greens to a hungry reader? I hate to list all the ingredients in the title- but it was infuriatingly hard not to with this recipe. And what I finally settled on certainly does not amount to the intense amount of joy you will have with each bite. Plain steamed greens, these are not.
The recipe itself is based on the one in the July issue of Gourmet magazine. I loved the idea of pairing lemon juice and Parmesan with the sauteed chard, but in order to make this a satisfying meal in it’s own right I felt it needed a few extra flavours and a poached egg on top just makes the meal complete. I started by scaling the dish down to serve one rather than six- partly because I really only eat all vegetable dinners when Don is out and because how many people have a pot large enough to cook 31bs of leafy greens in anyway? The recipe already called for anchovies, but frankly not enough to make a difference and I couldn’t resist adding a little heat in the form of a birds eye chili, plus capers go so well with lemon and parmesan. Like I said before, this dish deserves a plate of its own.
Rainbow chard with lemon, capers & parmesan
This dish has so much character that you can happily munch on a whole plate for dinner but it works equally well as a side dish to a simply grilled piece of fish or chicken. My favourite thing is to top it with a poached egg and let the runny yolk drizzle through the gaps.
Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side
Diet Facts: Dinner has never been healthier
300g Chard (Rainbow or Swiss)
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely sliced into slithers
1 birds eye chilli (optional) sliced very thinly, with seeds if you like it very hot
2 large anchovies
zest 1/2 lemon
Juice 1/2 lemon (or to taste)
1 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
1 heaping Tbsp drained capers
Poached egg, to serve (optional)
1/ Prepare the chard, first by washing it really well in cold water. Drain, chop nasty bits of stalk off and then chop the remaining stalks into roughly 1 inch peices. Cut the leaves into roughly 1 inch strips (keeping separate from the stalks).
2/ Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat and add the garlic and chili to the pan. Toss until golden brown, which will take about 30 odd seconds. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
3/ Add the anchovies to the pan, and stand back as they will start to splutter. Break up with a wooden spoon and if you need to add a splash of water to stop from sticking. Once they are mostly disolved (about a minute) add the chopped stalks to the pan. Cook over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes, tossing/stirring from time to time and adding a tablespoon of water if necessary to stop sticking.
4/ After five minutes, add the reserved leaves to the pan, turning so that they can wilt evenly. Cook for a further 8 minutes, continuing to toss and stir until they are fully wilted and some of the stalk ends are going golden.
5/ Remove the pan from the heat and add the garlic, chili and remaining ingredients to the pan, tossing to combine evenly and tasting before adding freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste. For a complete meal serve topped with a poached or fried egg.