Cooking from the CSA: Swiss Chard

A few weeks ago the New York Times printed a list of the eleven best foods you aren’t eating. I hate lists like this, as they always make me feel guilty about whatever I’m doing wrong or not doing at all. Anyway, a quick scan down this lengthy manifesto confirmed that the Times was right: Few of the cited items make a consistent appearance in my kitchen. But as if sensing my personal shame, my CSA came to the rescue on Saturday by providing me with a beautiful, floppy-leafed, pink-ribbed bunch of Swiss chard (#3 on that darn list).

Like most greens, chard is full of healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I don’t have anything against cooking with it, but when left to my own devices I always seem to reach for a big bunch of broccoli rabe instead. Luckily, being a member of a CSA forces me to experiment with different vegetables and be more creative with my cooking. Not all of the recipes I try are winners, but on Sunday night I discovered Jack Bishop’s recipe for chard leaves stuffed with lemon rice.

The recipe is quite simple, resulting in a more Italian interpretation of stuffed Greek grape leaves. Chard leaves act as sweet wraps for the lemony and creamy rice, while fried sage adds an herby, crumbly crunch. The chard, although boiled briefly before rolling, retains its elasticity and flavor against the explosively sunny rice. Confronted with these packets of summer goodness, I became an immediate convert to the charm of chard.

So I can check Swiss chard off that list and assuage my guilt, because this versatile green will certainly pop up on my table often. I also wonder what else I can stuff into its leaves; perhaps a mixture of rice and lentils, or rice and crumbled sausage. Any other ideas? Let me know while I deal with the other 10 foods I haven’t been eating.

Recipe for Chard Leaves Stuffed with Lemon Rice (adapted from Jack Bishop’s April 5, 2000 recipe in the New York Times and his 2004 cookbook, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen)

  • 8 large chard leaves, washed thoroughly and with the stems cut off at the bottom
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • juice squeezed from half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 16 sage leaves

Add chard leaves to a large pot of salted, boiling water. Briefly cook the chard for about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, carefully transfer leaves to a clean kitchen towel. Lay leaves flat and blot dry with paper towels. Let them cool completely.

Cook the rice in the same boiling water you used for the chard. This will take about 15 minutes. Whisk the egg yolk, cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice together in a bowl. 

When rice is cooked drain and then return it to the pot. Thoroughly stir in the egg mixture. Add 1 tablespoon butter, cover the pot, and set it aside for 1 minute. Stir. Cool the rice for 10 minutes.

Place a small amount of rice mixture at the widest end of the chard leaf (this will be at the bottom end of the leaf, where the stem was originally attached). You will have to use your judgment on how much rice you can fit into each leaf, as the size of each leaf will be different. Do not try and overstuff the leaf. Roll the chard leaf over and around the rice, tucking in the sides as you roll them.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and sauté until browned. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the chard packets to the pan, seam side down, and sauté until lightly browned, turning them once. This will take about 4 minutes. Transfer the stuffed chard leaves to a serving platter and garnish with the sage leaves. Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish. Enjoy!

3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Swiss chard was one of the foods on the list that I definitely do not eat often enough. I love the presentation here — they look like stuffed cabbage!

  2. 2

    Christina said,

    Thanks, Lydia! I’ve never made stuffed cabbage before; I’ll have to add that to my own list of things I need to make!

  3. 3

    Cheryl said,

    So, you can relate…I was feeling like I needed to mix it up a little in terms of the veggies that I eat, so I just bought some Swiss chard. I think I’m going to try this recipe! Thanks!

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