Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Chard and Tomato Skillet Toss

Sometimes I start dinner by figuring out what the heck I have in my cupboard.  (Usually I’m a decent planner, but sometimes . . . )  So the other night I knew I had to use that giant bunch of chard I’d bought, before it went bad.  I’d had various plans for it, but hadn’t settled on anything, part of the problem being that I didn’t really know how it would taste, plus most of the recipes started out by BLANCHING the stuff.  I’m of the opinion that I don’t generally want to cook my food before I, you know, COOK MY FOOD.  (I don’t blanch spinach for the same reason.)

But I had some onions from the Market (as always – my kitchen is not complete without 5 or 7 onions lurking somewhere), and canned tomatoes (not so much local, but at least they were organic).  So I went to town.  Note below that I did NOT throw away my chard stems.  I found a couple of recipes that used them, so I stuck them in the fridge for the weekend.  I’ll let you know what happens.  🙂

Ingredients:
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bunch Swiss chard, any color, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained*
Salt and pepper, to taste
a TINY TINY TINY sprinkle of nutmeg

The Recipe:
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic, and get to work chopping chard while they cook.  Give them a shove around the pan once in a while to keep them from burning.  (If they look a little unhappy, just lower the heat.)

When the onions are soft, but not brown, add the chard.  Toss it around until it’s all well mixed, and the chard starts to wilt a little.  Now (this is KEY), lower the heat to medium-low and put a lid on the pan.  Let it sit there for about 2 minutes – you just want the chard to cook without losing all the moisture in the pan.

Take the lid off and give it all another stir.  Add the canned tomatoes and mix together.  Taste, and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Add the nutmeg (don’t forget: TINY TINY TINY sprinkle) and heat the whole thing until it’s nice and hot. 

If you like, you can serve this over polenta, or mix in some protein.   You could double the recipe for 4 serving-size portions.  You could also add some chicken broth and maybe another can of tomatoes to make soup.  Or you could do what I did and toss in about 8 oz of cooked whole-wheat pasta. 

*If you use pasta, don’t drain the tomatoes.  You’ll want the extra juice to coat the pasta when you toss it.

How did it go?
Man, sometimes you hit the jackpot.  This was AMAZING!  I figured it would be ok, but it definitely became more than the sum of its parts.  And if you use pasta, definitely go with whole-wheat.  Not because I’m a health nut (HAHAHAHAHA), but because the toothsome-ness of the chard and tomatoes cries out for something equally substantial to stand up to them.  White pasta just isn’t going to cut it here.

The chard was a little fiddly to chop, but you can buy it pre-chopped at most grocery stores now.  You’ll need a fairly large package (though not a warehouse-store-sized one) to get enough vegetables, just FYI.  But even if you decide to chop your own, it’s TOTALLY worth it.  Seriously.

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