Thursday, December 6, 2012

Swiss Chard Salad with Sauteed Stems in A Dijon Vinaigrette...

Last night I felt like making a salad to go with our dinner, but I didn’t have any lettuce and I didn’t have any kale. I had cabbage but we’d just eaten a cabbage salad with dinner the night before and so I wanted something different. The only other green I had available was a huge bunch of Rainbow Swiss Chard that I bought on Sunday simply because it looked beautiful and because it was on sale. I took a good look at those big beautiful leaves and thought ‘why not? You can make a salad out of this can’t you?’ In fact I knew it was possible to make a salad out of Chard because I’d made a Romaine and Chard salad more then a year ago, but chard is just one of those greens that while I love it, I never really use it. Plus I was worried that without the subtle sweetness of romaine the chard would be too bitter. Of course since I didn’t have anything else to offset the flavor I had to do my best and make it work somehow.

In the end this salad exceeded all expectations, and for whatever reason it really felt like a winter salad. Maybe because of the dark leafy leaves, or maybe because Chard is more associated with winter, I don’t know but it felt appropriate and it tasted fantastic. Since I didn’t want to waste the stems and because I didn’t want to eat the stems raw I decided to saute them, I like sauteed chard stems, they taste vaguely of beets and I think it was a perfect topper for this salad. They were tasty, tender-crisp, made a beautiful presentation and throwing them into the salad is a great way to utilize the whole plant.

Though it may sound strange to you at first trust me when I say this salad is fan-freaking-tastic. My husband and I loved it so much we gobbled up massive bowls of it, and barely had room left for the soup I’d made as our main course. It’s got a great combination of flavors and textures, and each one really lingers on the tongue. Try it!

Swiss Chard Salad with Sauteed Stems in A Dijon Vinaigrette

1 Large bunch Rainbow Swiss Chard
1 Red Onion sliced thin
2 carrots grated
½ C dried Blueberries
1/4 C Toasted Pecans (optional)
2 Tbsp Hemp Seeds or more to taste
1 tsp olive oil

Dijon Vinaigrette 

3 Tbsp Hemp Seed Oil
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp Dijon Mustard
4 Medjool Dates
1/4-1/3 C Walnuts
1-2 Garlic Cloves to taste
½-1 Tsp Onion Powder
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Dash of White Pepper
1/4 C Purified Water to thin or more/less as needed.

- Remove Chard leaves from stems. Set stems aside and cut leaves into bite sized pieces. Toss the Chard leaves into a big bowl and add grated carrots, dried blueberries, pecans, and hemp seeds. Set aside.

- Mince the reserved Swiss Chard stems then add them to a medium sized pan with the tsp of olive oil and sliced red onions. Saute over medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes until stems are tender-crisp and onions are translucent. Remove from heat and add them to the salad.

Note - It’s okay if the pan that you’re cooking the stems and onions in gets a bit dry, you don’t want the mixture to be liquidly so you may even want to use less then 1 tsp of oil. Just enough really so that they cook nicely, get a bit of flavor and don’t stick to the pan. 

- To make vinaigrette place all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and blend until completely smooth. Taste for flavor, and consistency and thin the dressing as needed and adjust flavor to taste.

- Poor the vinaigrette over the salad and using two wooden spoons gently massage the dressing into the salad making sure all chard leaves get covered. Massage the salad for roughly 5 minutes until the chard leaves wilt slightly and soften.

- Divide amongst bowls and enjoy!

PS: In summer when fresh blueberries are in season you can make this salad with those instead of dry. You could also probably substitute the nuts for a nut that's a little more summery, like a Macadamia. Yum!