Waste not, want not: Chard stem mélange
We’re always being told about the wonders of leafy greens and how we should eat more of them, but so many recipes call for cutting out the main stem and discarding it. If you eat a lot of greens, that means throwing away a significant amount of chard biomass, which is an affront to any frugal cook’s sensibilities. Chard stalks have the same nutrients as the leaves (albeit in lower quantities) and, not surprisingly, more fiber. Plus, they are simple to prepare, versatile, and tasty.
The simplest way is to chop the stems in very small slices and sauté them in a pan with olive oil and garlic until the chard is soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and you are good to go. You can spritz them with a little lemon juice if you want to get fancy. Simple, savory, earthy and delicious.
If eating the leaves at the same time, simply start sautéing the stems first (they take a bit longer to soften, and cutting them in tiny pieces will help them cook faster), and then add the chopped leaves to the pan and sauté until done.
Yesterday, after a long day of work and then stumbling through Zumba, I got home shortly before 8 p.m., tired and with a serious case of chef’s block. I was not up for a trip to the grocery store and was determined to make do with whatever was on-hand. As soon as I got home, I threw some brown rice in a pot and got that started, because pretty much anything goes with rice. Bleary-eyed, I stared into the fridge and was met with two large bags of chard stems that were left over from the 6 dozen empanadas we had made last week. Chard stems keep longer than the leaves, but they do not last forever, so it was time to make do. I went through the fridge and grabbed any leftover veggies in search of a recipe. Proportions don’t matter for this recipe, so use what you’ve got in the amounts that you find tasty. Here’s what I came up with:
Chard stem mélange (because if it’s French, it doesn’t sound like leftovers, n’est-ce pas?)
Sauté minced onions, garlic, and ginger in a pan with olive oil. Add finely chopped chard stems, red bell peppers, and broccoli and sauté until soft. Other things you could add are carrots, chopped zucchini, or other greens. I tossed in some cashews as well, which gave a nice texture contrast to the vegetables. Add some Bragg’s liquid aminos or any kind of tamari or soy sauce. Serve over rice and be amazed (and grateful) at how delicious veggie scraps can become.
Looking for more chard stalk inspiration? Here are additional ways to have your chard and eat it too:
Poor and gluten free blog: 8 ways to use Swiss Chard Stalks
New York Times: Recipes for Health: Chard
Quote of the Day
“Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” –Genesis 1:29