Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts

As the cool weather approaches you will find more of our favorite greens at the farmers markets. One of the loveliest greens is Swiss Chard. It has crinkly green leaves accented with milky white or ruby red ribs. Large and small chard leaves are equally tasty, and the ribs can be thinly sliced and cooked along with the leaves.

Chard is mild tasting and sweet and can be very versatile. There are several varieties of chard including red and the sweet rhubarb chard. It is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin A and high in cancer fighting carotenoids. Chard should always be cooked as it contains oxalic acid that may irritate the mouth and intestinal tract. Cooking the chard neutralizes the acid and makes it safer to eat, but we still recommend all vegetables be organically grown.

The following recipe originated from the cookbook Foods to Live By. The author is also the owner of the hugely successful organic Earthbound Farms whose leafy green products are found in most grocery stores. The forward tells their success story beginning with a few greens in their backyard. Very inspiring.

Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Serves 4 to 6

1 bunch (about 1 pound) Swiss chard, any variety
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced shallots (green onions)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup raisins
½ cup toasted pine nuts
Coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground black pepper

(Substitute dried Cranberries for raisins and Almonds for pine nuts for a more Body Ecology friendly recipe. Or omit altogether and follow directions for a simple braised Swiss Chard)

1. Rinse the chard and cut the ribs off the leaves. Cut the ribs into 1/2-inch dice and set aside. Stack the leaves and cut them into ½-inch strips. Set the leaves aside separately.

2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or large, deep skillet (preferably nonstick) with a tight-fitting lid. Add the shallots and chard ribs and cook, uncovered, until soft, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the chard leaves and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of water, most of the lemon zest, and the raisins. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is tender and the water has almost evaporated, 4 to 8 minutes. If the water evaporates before the chard is tender, add an additional splash of water.

4. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the pine nuts, and season the chard with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately garnished with the remaining lemon zest

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