Saturday, February 18, 2012

Swiss Chard and Winter (in a manner of speaking)

Is that swiss chard in that sandwich? Brilliant.
It is winter here in North Carolina.

Winter is hiding just like the fuzz (sorry couldn't resist posting this picture).
Well, that is not exactly true. It would be more accurate for me to say it is February in North Carolina.  Winter implies a certain amount of cold miserable weather, which has just not happened. I am okay with that. I have decided that if I can not ski I do not care for winter. All it does is kill my favorite vegetables.

Except this year it has not! I mean, I am not eating tomatoes or anything, but certain winter greens have been coming to the farmer's market every week (that's right, we hippies in the south have a year round farmer's market). It is certainly not the bounty we get in summer. In February, I will take it.

I have many favorite winter vegetables. I love carrots, brussels sprouts, squash, and I have even developed a soft spot for kale (prepared properly). My favorite is swiss chard.

Reasons swiss chard is kick a** (this blog is PG, sort of):
1. It is beautiful (I know it comes in rainbow and plain, as with most things, I prefer rainbow). I love bright colors and this is one vegetable that can give me that in spades.

Rainbow Chard! I have no idea why my cell phone is right there. I am probably checking Facebook or something else essential. A glimpse into my fascinating life.
2. It is versatile. Soup, gratin, tossed with pasta, sauteed with [insert favorite seasonings here], and many other applications all taste wonderful.

3. It makes me feel healthy. I know that chard is not healthy when doused in cream, covered in cheese, or cooked with olive oil, but a girl can convince herself otherwise. This is a vegetable. Healthy.

Garlicky Swiss Chard Grilled Cheese
Serves 2 to 4 depending on how much chard you get

1 Bunch of Swiss Chard (I like rainbow, but it really does not matter)
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
Bread (I prefer sourdough sandwich bread, but a whole grain bread would be healthier and anything will really do)
Cheddar Cheese (I like a sharp white cheddar, but make it your own!)

1. Remove the swiss chard from the stems and roughly chop it into approximately 2 inch square pieces. Peel and chop up the garlic cloves. If you are a better person than me chop up your stems and use them too. I am going to save these for something else because I do not like the texture in the sandwich.

Tasty chard and so beautiful
2. Heat a heavy pan to medium heat with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the chard, garlic, and a pinch of salt in the heated pan. Stir to get everything combined. Cook for about 1 minute like this then cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook this way until the chard is tender and droopy (about 5 minutes). These will need longer if you added the stems. Remove the lid and let all of the water cook off. Take the chard out of the pan, but leave the pan on the heat.
3. Take two slices of bread and butter one side. You can be as generous or stingy as you would like here. I try and straddle a very fine line between gluttonous and boring. More butter = more crusty deliciousness.

Buttering bread. What's that Sarah, an apple cider? I am going to start calling it chef juice (thanks Gilmore Girls).

4. Slice your cheddar to taste and place it on the unbuttered side of one of your bread slices. Cover this cheese with a generous handful of chard. Add the other slice of buttered bread on top (butter up). Repeat process with all of the sandwiches you wish to make.

Assembling sandwich.
5. Put this sandwich on the heavy pan. No grease necessary, remember the butter. Cook until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese has started to melt. Sometimes I use the lid for part of this time to speed up the cheese melting. Flip the sandwiches and do the same for the other side.

Sandwiches in the pan.
6. Remove and serve with tomato soup, roasted potatoes, by themselves, the world is your oyster.

Served with roasted potatoes. Winter dinner. Done. 

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