It’s the end of our Winter CSA, but we still have lots of veggies to use!
It is the end of our winter CSA, so I stocked up on a few favorites to tide us over until the farm stands open and the season begins anew with radishes and lettuces from our fields, plus a few wild offerings from our forests. Fiddleheads will appear any moment, wild garlic, stinging nettles, and perhaps a morel mushroom or two!
But for this moment, there are winter roots and greens that still keep us on track to eat as local as possible. Swiss chard is one of my favorite greens. It is reliable here in the northeast, cut and come again all season, and it often lasts well into December in the garden with just a little protection and a scare tactic or two to keep the deer from munching it down. Full of vitamins, one feels virtuous just thinking about cooking with this beautiful dark, leafy green. As nutritious as kale, I think it tastes even better!
Just a 35-calorie cup has twice the Vitamin A you need in a day, half your Vitamin C, seven times what you need in Vitamin K, and a good amount of Vitamin E as well. It is also a good source of potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium, copper, and calcium. Seven carbs, four grams of fiber, and a whole host of phytonutrients make this vegetable a powerhouse of nutrition, in many categories, more nutrition than kale. It is even suggested to help reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, and to strengthen bones.
So many colors!
This beautiful green also comes in a rainbow of colors which boost the mineral levels. I often plant a rainbow mix in my garden, with my personal favorite the deeply colored ruby red ribbed.
I love chard cooked in many ways, but the simplest is just a quick steam to barely wilt the greens. A little salt and pepper, a splash of vinegar (my mom always spritzed her greens with vinegar), and that’s all you need. But chard also holds its own in a soup or stew.
The leaves are so pretty, they beg to be stuffed! This recipe is extremely flavorful, and can stand on its own with a side salad for lunch, or serve as the side dish to a protein, although she will probably steal the show!
Use what you have or love
While you can stuff these with just about any vegetable you have on hand, I chose rutabaga as the base because that’s what I had from my local farm. Also packed with nutrition and flavor, its pretty orange looked lovely with the vibrant chard, with a little watermelon radish salad on the side for nutrition, crunch, and more visual interest. You could also use mashed carrots or parsnips, or even white or sweet potatoes.
I used a local goat cheese this time around, but I’ve also used vegan cream cheese quite successfully here if you want to keep it dairy free. The roasted red peppers were from my pantry, but if you have fresh, just char them yourself, peel, and enjoy. Pesto from the freezer, and goat cheese from our local cheese vendor.
I added hot sauce for a little zing, my favorite Cholula Chili Lime which is filled with beautiful flavor. Of course, finish with a spritz of balsamic or cider vinegar!
Stuffed Swiss Chard
- 5 or 6 large Swiss Chard leaves (I had five)
- 1 medium rutabaga, peeled and chopped
- A few splashes of hot sauce
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 4-oz. log local goat cheese, or vegan cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 tbsp. pesto
- 2 roasted red peppers, cut in strips
- Salt and pepper
- Balsamic vinegars sea salt to garnish
Remove the toughest ribs of the chard, about halfway up the leaf. Reserve these for another use. Steam the leaves just for a minute or so until limp. Place on parchment paper or a kitchen towel to drain and cool.
Prepare the rutabaga and steam or boil until soft. Mash with the butter, season with salt and pepper to taste, and add hot sauce to your liking. Cover and keep warm.
Mash the goat cheese or cream cheese with the pesto. It should be fairly soft.
Take a chard leaf and gently spread some of the goat cheese mixture in the middle. Top with the mashed rutabaga, and arrange a layer of the pepper strips on top of this. Season lightly, then wrap it up like a burrito. Fold the edge closest to you over the mound, then each side, and finally the last side, forming a sort of square parcel. Continue with the rest, dividing what you have for mixtures among your leaves.
Heat a large, non-stick skillet or iron frying pan over medium high. Once hot, add a little olive oil and place the smooth side of the packets in the pan for a quick sear. This also helps there cheese to melt. Turn once, then plate.
Garnish with a little vinegar, then add a last dress of sea salt.
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