Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sauteed Red Chard with Garlic Scapes and Raisins

Sauteed Red Chard with Raisins and Garlic Scapes
There are many varieties of chard--Swiss chard, "bright lights" or rainbow chard, and red chard are what I see here most often (this has to do with their broad popularity, I suspect, which makes grocery stores more likely to carry these varieties), though I've also seen silverbeet. Apparently, if you buy/grow a variety with a colored stem, you shouldn't eat the stem because it's "tough," but as long as the stems are narrow-ish I've never found this to be a problem. Also, throwing away the stems seems wasteful to me. A solution: slice thinner before you cook them and throw them in before the leaves, if you find you're struggling with how tough the stems are. A little extra cooking solves this problem for me.

The chard is supposedly coming in, by which I really mean that it's starting to not look sickly in the stores. The local chard at the farmers market is still prohibitively expensive, but in a week or two that won't be the case. Nonetheless, I picked up some organic red chard from my local food co-op and rode home with it in my backpack--sticking out of the top.

In Austin, MN (if you read my post on BBQ hummus), this would've warranted strange looks. In my town, however, this type of behavior is pretty much par for the course.

Garlic Scape, at the joint
I sliced it up (about 1/4-inch strips) and then cut my strips in half. In an attempt to replicate a tapas I particularly enjoy (fresh spinach with pine nuts and raisins, sauteed with garlic in olive oil), I sauteed my chard with those ingredients, minus pine nuts--which are expensive and which I don't really love. And technically, instead of garlic, I used garlic scapes because those are in season here and I have a dozen I bought at the farmers market this weekend. A garlic scape, if you're not familiar, are the flowering stalk of hardneck garlic--and completely edible (and very garlicky). I first encountered garlic scapes three or four years ago in a small town in the Southeast, where they were a prominent menu feature at a seasonal-foods-only restaurant.
Don't garlic scapes look a little like snakes?
If you don't have garlic scapes or their season has ended where you live, that's fine. Use regular fresh garlic, minced.
A tangle of garlic scapes on my kitchen table

I ate this as a main dish for just myself, but you could certainly use it as a side dish for 2-3 people (depending on how much they like veggies!).

Sauteed Red Chard with Garlic Scapes and Raisins
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large garlic scapes, chopped (or about 2 teaspoons fresh, minced garlic)
1 bunch red chard (5-6 large leaves with stalks), cut into 1/4-1/2-inch strips
2 tablespoons raisins or currants

Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat, then add your oil and coat the bottom of the pan. Add your garlic scapes and saute for one minute. Add the chard and saute until it just begins to wilt, about 3-4 minutes. Add the raisins and a sprinkle of salt, and saute another 2 minutes. Serve hot.

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