Saturday, October 27, 2007

swiss, you say? i think not ....

this is another typical sefardi (moroccan) "salade" that is served at room temperature and part of a myriad of other ones that is seen on the table for the sabbath and on certain holidays like passover. the vegetable used this time is swiss chard or les blettes.

swiss chard has a flavour similar to beets, kale and spinach and is very healthy, as it is rich in vitamin K and A, in addition to C. it does, however, have a distinctive flavour which may not please everyone. i like to think of swiss chard as more of an adult vegetable than one for kids. chard typically comes in two varieties — a ruby red one, with big (red veined) leafy greens and a vibrant crimson stalk and the white variety which is a bit milder but with creamy white stalks. the red variety reminds me of rhubarb but definitely does not taste anything like it. other colours are also available (see link below).

what makes this vegetable swiss, you may be wondering? absolutely nothing! it was named as such due to a beetle infestation at one point in history which rendered its leaves looking like swiss cheese. how's that for interesting (random) facts? :))

more information here about chard from one of my favourite british food magazines, and also here. this site shows you the different colours of chard available. isn't the orange one great?

look here for a different recipe using swiss chard which actually involves pita bread! another one here involving chicken.


salade de blettes (swiss chard "salad")

here is another common morrocan jewish "salade" which is not really a salad at all but an appetizer served at room temperature as opposed to cold which would completely dull the flavours. i like to use a lot of olive oil with this as it adds more depth than when made with little. as with all these kinds of "salades", they need to marinate for several hours or overnight to achieve their maximum flavour, otherwise they are insipid.

ingredients:

1 bunch of swiss chard (~15 leaves)
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
4 - 6 tbsp extra-v olive oil
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sugar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp saffron, crumbled or powdered

method:

wash the chard carefully and remove any parts of the leaves that are not perfect.

gather the chard and match the bottoms together. remove the bottoms of the stalks and then chop the stems into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.

still holding the bunch, chop the leaves cross wise into 1/2 inch strips.

place all the chard into a pot or pan and add water until it reaches half way up the chard.

bring to boil and cook the chard for about 10 minutes or until the stems can be cut easily. they should be tender and not tough when you chew them.


carefully drain the chard and let it cool a bit. press out all the water. don't skip this as you'll end up with a watery dish if not drained properly.

in another bowl, blend all the remaining ingredients together except the lemon juice.

add the lemon juice and mix again.

place the drained chard into the dressing and mix well.

let it sit 15 minutes and then taste and adjust the flavours and oil if you feel more is needed.

the "salade" needs to rest for a few hours before serving. if using that day, leave it out on the counter or place in the fridge overnight and bring to room temperature when serving.

enjoy!



5 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I didn't know that! Thanks for making me learn something! That dish looks delicious!

Cheers,

Rosa

sarita said...

j commenting: eww, icky acelgas again for dinner?
definately he's not one of your fans after this post but i am.love acelgas (chard) but had never seen this red variety, always learn something from you!here you can get some good recipes http://www.karlosnet.com/General/buscador.php?busc=acelgas&i=0

i'll be in touch bb

burekaboy — said...

rosa - i used to HATE this stuff but like many things, came to like (or rather appreciate) them as i got older.

funny how the name came to be — better than "emmenthal chard"! LOL, and here we were thinking it's a swiss vegetable ;)

hi sar - que pobrecito! j debe llorar cada vez quando él vea acelgas en la nevera!!

thanks for the link, lots of interesting stuff to try out besides what i usually make from them. we put them in soups, or use the leaves to roll up things (dolmas) -- easier than cabbage.

the red one is very colourful. there is even an orange which is very nice looking and different.

Magpie Ima said...

It's taken me years to appreciate chard and I still prefer it hidden, as in Posole Verde, which I write about here: http://magpieeats.blogspot.com/2007/04/posole-verde.html

burekaboy — said...

hi magpie ima - i used to detest chard until much later on and refused to eat it. i guess it's one of those acquired tastes (like broccoli rabe).

will check out your link. thanks for the comment :)