Did you know that Swiss chard is two vegetables in one? You're probably very comfortable using the leafy part of the green, but if you're throwing the stems away, you're losing a major part of this vegetable.
I use the stems in soups or quiches. Treat the stems like celery when cooking them - they benefit from a little extra time in the sauté pan and should be cut the short way into thin slices, to reduce stringiness.
I recently found this recipe for pickled chard stems on the NY Times T magazine blog. I'm not generally a fan of sweet pickles (à la bread and butter pickles), but these are just super. Even better, they're ready to eat in a hour or so.
Pickled Chard Stems
Adapted from a recipe by Peter Meehan and the chefs at Gramercy Tavern
Yields about 1 pint
- The stems from 1 bunch of Swiss chard
- 1 thyme sprig
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 cups rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- pinch each of fennel seed, peppercorns, mustard seed
- couple slices of beet
Cut the chard stems into even lengths, cutting any really thick stems in half lengthwise as well. Put the stems and the thyme sprig into a heat safe jar that just holds the stems (I used a quart canning jar, but should have used a pint jar).
Bring the water, sugar, salt, spices and beet to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the hot brine into the canning jar: it should cover the stems completely. If not, boil up a little more.
Let the pickles cool and then refrigerate.
This Summer, I am chronicling my first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) experience. My CSA share is from Arrowhead Farm, a farm based in Newburyport, MA. Each week, I am posting about what was in my share and what I'm doing with it. By way of full disclosure, I won my share through a raffle and am not paying for it. However, Arrowhead did not know I was entered in the raffle, and I received no special consideration because of this blog. I paid for my livestock share. A full set of all the photos I've taken of this share is here.