Chard Stems are Forgiving

chard stems leeks potatoes hot dogsSome dishes welcome the chard leaves but not the stems, some do both, but I tend to have bags of chard stems in the fridge. . . .for quite some time often. I just unearthed a bag of rainbow chard stems and found them perfectly fine. The ends had browned a little but nothing a little trim couldn’t fix. Their color alone whets the appetite but made into a hash with leeks (also forgiving and also yellowing a bit), potatoes and leftover hot dogs (from yesterday’s bbq) they make a perfectly satisfying dinner. Since it was just my 8-year-old and me for dinner tonight we didn’t even need an egg on top. One dish; the fridge is a bit tidier; and we’re both full.

chard stem leek potato hot dog hashchard stem leek potato hot dog hash w green sauce

Hash with Whatever You’ve Got . . .

in this case:

Olive oil
2 big leeks, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced into half rounds
4-5 medium, firm fleshed potatoes, scrubbed and cut into small dice or chunks
about 15 chard stems, washed and thinly sliced
4 leftover hot dogs (please don’t feel the need to create leftover hot dogs to make this:)! or use whatever leftover meat you might have or no meat at all
Salt
Green sauce (optional–see below)
Fried or poached egg (optional but lovely especially if you don’t have leftover meat)

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the largest skillet you have over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and chard stems and a few pinches of salt. Saute over fairly high heat for a few minutes until softening. Add the potatoes and a bit more salt and mix well. Continue cooking until the potatoes are browning and tender. Add the leftover meat, if using, and warm through. Top with the green sauce (below) or with any kind of salsa or simply fresh parsley or cilantro or any other herb.

Green Sauce  . . . with what I happened to have

Small bunch parsley, washed and finely chopped
1/2 small bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped
Handful mint leaves, washed and finely chopped
1 big stalk green garlic, trimmed and minced (green part too since it was nice and tender)
Small piece of shallot, minced (use any kind of onion or green onion or skip)
About 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (vinegar would be fine too)
About 1/3 cup olive oil
Salt to taste

Mix everything together well and taste and adjust seasoning with salt and or lemon juice or vinegar. This sauce is good on most anything . . .

 

 

Green Garlic, Butter, and Parmesan

. . . with eggs, or  fresh pasta, or fish or beef or beans, or toast. . .! I can think of few things that would not be enhanced by the combination of these three things. I know I wrote about green garlic here a few weeks go and in fact I do every spring. There’s something about those sweet, fresh, flexible, immature garlic stalks that makes cooking so fun this time of year. It’s the third wet, cold spring in a row for us Oregonians and my robust green garlic crop is one of the few highlights in an otherwise unbearably soggy garden.

In other news, my recent trip to Louisville, Kentucky (beautiful city with excellent food) for the Slow Food National Congress was decidedly not soggy and very inspiring. But I was also relieved to be home again and reminded of how comforting and freeing it is to be able to cook with whatever odds and ends you might find in your kitchen/garden after being away for a week. You can read about that here. And it reminded me why I love to teach cooking classes and in particular my Eat Better Series, which lays the foundation for delicious, healthy eating every day, no matter where you are or what your dietary restrictions may be. So if you sometimes find yourself at a loss for what to make for dinner and no time to run to the store or need, simple, quick recipes to avoid eating processed foods, then this might be your class.

If you live in Portland, Oregon you can buy this fresh spinach pasta at Pastaworks/City Market. It’s delicious, beautiful and incredibly inexpensive.

Pasta with Green Garlic, Butter & Parmesan

You use the whole garlic stalk, much like you would a green onion (scallion). The whole plant is tender and delicious so just barely trim it. And if you don’t have pasta you can gently cook fish fillets or shrimp in the garlic mixture, or toss the garlic into scrambled eggs or a frittata or stir it into a bowl of warm pinto beans. You really can add it to most anything.

1 lb fresh pasta (or 2/3 lb dried spaghetti, linguine or other long, skinny pasta)
5-6 stalks green garlic, roots and scraggly tops trimmed, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
Salt, pepper and touch of olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Have a cup on hand to scoop out some of the cooking water before you drain the pasta.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped green garlic and stir well to coat. Add a few pinches of salt. Cook the garlic, covered, stirring occasionally until it’s soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn it.

If you’re using fresh pasta you’ll just need to cook it for two minutes or so. Check frequently so that you don’t overcook it. When the pasta is al dente, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the garlic (off the heat), then add the grated cheese and some of the cooking water. Stir vigorously to mix. It will take a minute or two for the pasta cooking water to work its magic and combine with the cheese and the garlic to create a sauce that will just coat the pasta. Add more water if it seems dry. Adjust for seasoning and drizzle a bit of good olive oil over the whole thing and add a few grinds of pepper. Enjoy!

I had eaten my whole serving save this bite when I remembered I wanted to take a photo. I’m warning you, this goes down very easily!