Bright Lights

Swiss_chard_003_copy_1

 

Bloomington’s finest hours may be in
the springtime that earns us our name. We
truly are a blooming town; with red buds, dogwoods, fruit trees, daffodils,
crocuses and hyacinths, we are a riot of soft and fragrant color these warming
days.

You
can see the difference at the farmers market too. We have only one more winter market before
the city market takes over for the summer, and the vendors there already have fresh
green things to sell.

I
made a salad last weekend with supermarket frisée, liberally scattered
with pea
shoots, fennel sprouts, and radish sprouts from the market. Each of
those thready little microgreens
packed a punch belied by its size – you’d have thought sweet green
peas, crisp
fennel and pungent radishes were lurking in the curly lettuce. So
simple and oh so good. (Threw some bacon – an honorary vegetable,
remember – in there for good measure and dressed it with some very
fruity olive
oil, sweet chardonnay vinegar, garlic and mustard. Best salad I’ve had
in a while. Much better than the braised chicken I served
it with, which I will post about another time.)

Besides
loading up on sprouts and shoots and herbs at the market, I bought three
bunches of beautiful Bright Lights Swiss Chard, which I promptly stored in my
vegetable crisper and forgot about until lunchtime yesterday. Bright Lights Swiss Chard is one of my favorite
vegetables (gorgeous photo here), rich and dark green, with luminous veins and
stalks of red, yellow, orange, and pink. The taste is wonderful too – you know you are eating mineral-laden
greens, but the taste is still sweet and beety, not metallic as some greens can
be.

I
found the chard as I was scrounging for a last minute lunch before heading to
the airport, and there was a wax paper-wrapped wedge of Judy Schad’s Capriole
Farms Pipers Pyramid in the fridge as well, just crying to be eaten before we
left. Goat cheese and greens for lunch!

I wasn’t
even packed yet, but food comes first and I knew I would only see airport fare
for the rest of the day. So I sautéed a slivered
red onion in my favorite fruity olive oil til it caramelized and then threw in
a chopped up clove of garlic and the chard, cut into strips. The water clinging to the leaves from a quick
rinse of the chard was enough liquid to cook it quickly over high heat. It was so fresh and young that there were no
heavy stalks to braise, so I stirred it around a couple of times and added a
handful of dried sweet cherries and a dash of sherry vinegar and let it simmer
a minute. Scooped it all into a bowl,
scattered it with pistachios and let some chunks of goat cheese melt into it
all.

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If
I’d had time I’d have tossed the whole thing with pasta, but I was running late
(and running to fat as well), so I ate it just as it was.

Perfect.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Alanna says:

    Very impressive. The chard of course. But more, cooking AND photography while rushing out the door …

    Like

  2. Deborah Dowd says:

    This looks incredible! I couldn’t take pictureslike that if I staged them for an hou, but the whole throwing something together with some goat cheese sounds great, especially for a meatless meal- the epitome of playing with food!

    Like

  3. Lydia says:

    Your technicolor photos are making my mouth water! What a wonderful combination of flavors and textures; I love whole meal salads.

    Like

  4. You wouldn’t have thought it was impressive if you had seen me at it, Alanna. I was just determined not to let that gorgeous chard go to waste.
    Deborah, it was fun to throw it all together, but I have to confess that it was all a variation on stuff I’d done before. It’s hard to go wrong with those flavors.
    This dish ended up using one of my favorite flavor/texture combinations, Lydia. I am a sucker for pistachios and dried cherries — crunchy and chewy, salty and sweet. Yum.

    Like

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