This time of year, we’re all craving fresh spring vegetables, but every year we forget that spring vegetables don’t really surface until late in the season (in Eastern Long Island, anyway). I’m always looking for those first crops of local asparagus and fava beans, but the ones at my market are still of the long-distance variety.
Tonight, I’ve decided to make my swiss chard taste like spring, even though it was grown (far away) in winter. A sprinkle of lemon zest and juice brighten almost any vegetable, so rather than sauteing the chard with garlic and chili flakes (which I’ve done all winter), I’m brightening them with lemon.
This requires no recipe, but rather some proportions, to help you prepare a quantity that suits your table.
I always make more swiss chard than I know we’ll eat at one meal, so there’s always some leftover for lunch the next day (either by itself or in a frittata).
Start with about 1 medium bunch per two persons.
Wash the greens by slicing the bundles crosswise, stems and all, into 1″ pieces and submerging in a large bowl of water. Pull out the pieces and repeat until there is no soil left at the bottom of the water.
Drop into heavily salted boiling water and blanch for about 10 minutes, or until stems pieces are crisp-tender.
In a large skillet, add about a quarter cup of olive oil (per 2 bunches of chard), several shallots, sliced thinly, and the zest of a lemon.
Saute on medium heat for about 7 minutes, or until shallots begin to turn golden.
Add drained swiss chard and continue sauteing on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until beginning to dry and crackle (indicating that the water has evaporated and the greens have begun to saute a bit).
Taste and add salt and black pepper. Serve with a sprinkle of lemon juice.
Tonight, our main course was pasta–fresh egg pappardelle dressed with a pork sparerib ragu. This sauce consisted of my Sugo Calabrese minus the sausage. I had several frozen bags of individual portions, leftover from the winter.
This sauce reminded me that winter’s not so bad, either!