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Swiss Chard

THE STORY: One year my wife and I were eating at Ristorante Pacini in Montebello, and ordering greens, were told that day they had stridoli. “What’s that?” my wife asked. The server said it was a wild green growing out there on the hillside. She pointed in the direction of San Marino. Typical. In Romagna and Marches, greens are a staple. At a country inn or osteria like Pacini, you look for erbe di compagna, on the menu, which translates roughly as “wild greens.” That might mean stridoli or chickory or boragine or chard. Whatever green is in season, it will probably be prepared in a frying pan and served with olive oil and garlic. Crazy good.

NICHE: Side dish. Great to have a little chard leftover.

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

COOK TIME: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS:

2 bunches of Swiss Chard
3-5 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS: The fresh chard I’ve been buying is already washed. But wash them anyway. The leaves can be sandy and dirty, especially if your source is farmers market chard.  The steps below take 15 minutes.

Cut the ends off the stems and discard the ends. Then cut the stems away from the leaves. Wash the leaves and stems, cutting the rinsed stems into half inch (or so) pieces. 

Coarse chop the leaves into manageable piles and toss them in already fast boiling water. Add the sliced up stems. 

While the water comes back to a boil, 3-5 minutes, dice two cloves of garlic into a 2-3 tablespoon puddle of olive oil in a frying pan. Warm the garlic on low heat.

In the boil, swirl and roll the chard leaves a few times, then drain everything in a colander. Run cold water over the drained leaves to shock the chard and cool it.  Total time in the water, 3-5 minutes.The shocked chard should look brilliant green.

Chop the cooled chard, finer this time, and dump the leaves in the pan with the gently warmed and lightly sauteed garlic.

Cook on low-medium heat to reduce the water content. Add a little more oil. If you like them garlicky, dice another clove of garlic over the chard. Continue cooking until the chard is tender.  Add salt to taste.

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