Lemony Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins

With its bright green leaves and stems of yellow, orange, and red, rainbow Swiss chard is by far the prettiest green around.  And in my opinion, the tastiest!

But I have to admit, for years I was not a greens fan.  I’d turn my nose at all different types: turnip, mustard, kale …. You name the variety; I was not going to eat it.

Then last year in my weekly Fall CSA, I kept getting a big bunch of Swiss Chard. The first bunch died in the back of my fridge.  The second week, I gave my Swiss Chard to a friend.  The third week I decided, “I have to give this a try.” Wasn’t one of the reasons I participated in a CSA to try new ingredients?

I called my friend Melissa (who had happily taken that second bunch of  Swiss Chard off my hands) and asked her how she prepared hers.

“Be sure not to overcook the Swiss Chard. Its flavor is best when it is just lightly sautéed ,”she advised.

So, I cooked it just like a do spinach …  sautéed with garlic in a little olive oil until just wilted.  

Before I took the first bite I wondered, “Is this even cooked enough?”  All the greens I had encountered on menus in the South had been cooked for hours … not minutes.

But Melissa was right!  Lightly sautéing is the trick!

As I continued to get Chard (and other greens) in my weekly CSA, I played around with a few other recipes. This lemony version is my favorite.  The lemon brightens the flavor of the greens and the pine nuts and golden raisins add a delicious texture.

Swiss Chard is in season in the Fall. Go out and give it a try.  Who knows?  This nutrient-packed green may become a favorite of your too!

Enjoy!

Lemony Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely-diced shallots
6 cups coarsely chopped rainbow Swiss chard leaves
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan. Add the shallots and cook until they are soft, about 2 minutes.

Add the chard and cook, stirring, until the leaves just begin to wilt, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, water, lemon zest, and raisins. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is tender and the liquid has almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: I prefer rainbow Swiss chard due to its brightly colored veins, but varieties with only white or red veins are equally delicious.

Variation: For more texture and color use the stems in this dish as well. Cut the stems into 1/2-inch pieces, add to the pan before adding the leaves and cook until the stems are tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the leaves and continue with the recipe.

Note: A CSA (short for Community-Supported Agriculture) is also known as “subscription farming.” At the beginning of the growing season, you purchase a subscription from a local farmer just like you buy a subscription to magazine. But instead of receiving a magazine each week, shareholders receive a weekly supply of veggies, herbs, fruits and sometimes even eggs and meat. It’s a win-win for the customer and the farmer. The customer gets fresh, locally-grown foods.  The prepaid CSA fees are a source of financial security for the farmer.

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Jennifer Chandler

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