If you’ve ever had a farm share, you’ve undoubtedly shared Gourmandistan’s occasional feelings of basket fatigue. That’s the point where you can’t think of one more thing to do with a bunch of Russian kale, basil or (please forgive us, Pavel) a bounty of accursed beets. Up until recently, one of the fatigue-inducing entries was Swiss chard. Though the chickens always loved the leftovers.
Chard is a leafy green vegetable that comes with a variety of stem colors, but when you come right down to it it’s basically a big-veined spinach. Like spinach, several pounds of leaves cook down to a handful and, like spinach, sometimes you just start getting tired of dealing with it. We’ve had chard tarts, chard frittatas, chard pilafs, chard with cheese and chard alone, and none has been something we’ve been dying to make again. Until we found this recipe from Melissa Clark’s New York Times column, included in her book, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. A simple combination of grits, Parmesan and olive oil-fried eggs transform the chore of chard into something so good Michelle was actually disappointed none appeared in our CSA basket last week, forcing her to find it at our Saturday market. Thank you, Melissa Clark, for making “chard” no longer a curse in Gourmandistan. “Beets,” however, will remain an epithet for eternity.
RECIPE NOTES: Clark’s polenta and chard piece appeared in her “A Good Appetite” Times column in February 2007. We thought we were being really clever putting a Kentucky spin on the recipe by using Weisenberger grits. But then we read the article in full and saw Clark beat us to it:
Use coarsely ground cornmeal here, either polenta or corn grits; they are essentially the same thing, though some people will tell you that polenta is milled finer than grits, and vice versa. You can also use hominy grits, which have a slightly different flavor because the corn has been treated with lye before being ground. Any which way, look for stone ground, which is coarser and more flavorful. Unless you’re truly pressed for time, avoid anything labeled “instant,” a euphemism for quick and pasty.
We cooked the grits according to the package instructions, adding a bit of butter, salt and pepper at the end. The only changes we made to Clark’s Garlicky Swiss Chard recipe were to caramelize a thinly-sliced onion in some additional olive oil before adding the chard, using more garlic than called for and ending with a splash of balsamic vinegar.