Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lemony Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins - A Recipe, a Review, and Giveaways

SwissChardFinalOriginalSmall

Did you ever push your peas to the side of the plate when you were a kid, maybe hoping they would drop ever so inconspicuously over the side and under the rim? Well, I never disliked peas when I was growing up. It was always onions and green bell peppers that were sulfurous and bitter to my immature palate. No amount of soy sauce could camouflage the flavors enough to help me choke them down.

That was decades ago. I can now savor a bite out of a raw onion as if it was a cherished heirloom apple. Green bell peppers have become a crunchy and welcome addition to my salads.

Yet there were still culinary landscapes within the produce bins which were routinely dismissed no matter how closely I stood next to them while visiting the neighboring cabbage and cauliflower. These were the the big-gun greens: the kale, the collards, and the most imposing of them all, the Swiss chard. Spinach, I could handle, since I always found it mild, meek, and manageable after it shrunk during cooking to a fraction of its former size. But there was something about the others, with their thick, venous frames and muscular leaves which had me shrinking like cooked spinach.

My first sip of caldo verde converted me quickly to kale. Chopped, steamed collards, I learned, were exceptional when buttered and salted, or supporting a lava flow of melted cheese. These were discovered made in recent years, but I was still circling the Swiss chard with an intimidated eye until only some months ago, when I was approached by Thomas Nelson Publishers to review Simply Suppers: Easy Comfort Food Your Whole Family Will Love, a cookbook of quick and tasty recipes written by Jennifer Chandler.

The cookbook, square and half the size of many unwieldy volumes, is both a comfort and pleasure to cook from. Most of the recipes are short on their number of ingredients and preparation times, yet long on creativity. Each entry is accompanied by easy-to-follow directions, and efficient, small suggestions to streamline your efforts in a big way.

Although practical in that it forgoes glamorous or anecdotal essays of introduction, Simply Suppers shares Natalie Root's attractively casual photographs which accurately represent what your meals will look like when they're ready to serve. This is exactly the sort of cookbook to crack open when you are nearly dead on your feet after a long day or when the gourmet muse is not calling, yet you crave flavor, ease, and diversity. I have made several recipes under both circumstances, and I cleared the table feeling satiated and nourished.

With over 100 recipes featuring soups, sides, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts, Simply Suppers includes meals for vegetarians, meat eaters, and vegans, many of which are highly adaptable to cater to your particular dietary preferences. I was so impressed by my samplings of Wild Mushroom, Rosemary, and Hazelnut Dressing; Three-Grain Casserole; and Baked Cheese Grits that I was not predicting I would become an acolyte of Swiss chard, courtesy of Lemony Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins. I am so enamored with it, that I have prepared it several times since the first preparation.

As a result, my market routine has changed. I can now spot Swiss chard's fluorescent stalks at fifty paces. If the bunches are very fresh, they will go home with me. And sometimes I even forget the cabbage and the cauliflower. --

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Lemony Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins - From Simply Suppers: Easy Comfort Food Your Whole Family Will Love. Reprinted by permission and courtesy of Thomas Nelson Publishers at my request - © 2010 Jennifer Chandler

With its bright green leaves and stems of yellow, orange, and red, rainbow Swiss chard is by far the prettiest green around. Be sure not to overcook because its flavor is best when it is just lightly sautéed.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
6 cups coarsely chopped rainbow Swiss chard leaves
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the skillet. Add the shallots and cook until they are soft, about 2 minutes.

- Add the chard and cook, stirring, until the leaves just begin to wilt, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, water, lemon zest, and raisins. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is tender and the liquid has almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip
: I prefer rainbow Swiss chard due to its brightly colored veins, but varieties with only white or red veins are equally delicious.

Variation: For more texture and color, use the stems in this dish as well. Cut the stems into 1/2-inch pieces, add to the pan before adding the leaves, and cook until the stems are tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the leaves and continue with the recipe. --
I am happy to be able to offer two copies of "Simply Suppers," which I requested from the publisher for the purpose of giveaways. Two random drawings will be conducted: one for domestic readers, and one for international readers. These drawings are open to everyone, whether they blog or not, with the exception of my personal friends and family, who are not eligible to win. To be included in the drawings, please leave a comment and whether you live in the U.S. or abroad. Bloggers, please ensure that a link to your site is included so that I can contact you. For other readers and those who anonymously comment, I will need your full first and last name to identify you as the winner. Comments will be open until Wednesday, October 19 at 11:59 p.m. New York time. I will conduct the drawings and announce the winners on Thursday, October 20. Good luck to all, and I hope you enjoy the recipe!

F.T.C. Statement:
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book and the two giveaway copies free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

34 comments:

  1. I love Swiss chard! Sweet like spinach but keeps its shape like kale. :) I've made spinach with raisins and pine nuts but didn't like the mushiness of the steamed spinach... obviously, I was meant to do with with chard!

    (i am an international reader)

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  2. We don't get Swiss chard here, but I've never tried cooking greens with nuts and raisins.
    We cook our spinach/ greens in a very different way.

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  3. What a gorgeous salad! A mouthwatering combination of ingredients.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  4. Rainbow chard is now the only thing left growing in my garden. Think I shall make this tonight.

    (Scotland)

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  5. I love the colour of the swiss chard. Beautiful picture indeed.

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  6. What beautiful dish! For some strange reason I LOVED all my greens and vegetables as a kid and now my daughter also loves them :)

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  7. At first i used to hate cooking kale cause the way they shrinked after cooking but now I've known to buy the right size so that i don't end up cooking the meal twice. Lovely post. HOPE I win the giveaway :)

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  8. Heheh love your pea story;)) And swiss chard I make regularly..thsi can be still found in my garden..it is the strong cookie that one.I was pleased when I found some time ago also how to pickle swiss chard stems becaus ethey are edible but take long to cook:)
    Your combination here is very appealing;)

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  9. When I first bought Swiss Chard, I had no clue of how to cook it. I treated it as if I would Spinach in a Indian sambars and it was very good. Now I buy it whenever I get a chance. Gorgeous picture Susan, as always.

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  10. I love chard, and your recipe will be on my menu this weekend...


    my beloved husband doesn't share the same passion I do, but he goes along with it, as long as I make a nice juicy T-bone steak in the same meal ;-)

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  11. Love swiss chard, and this recipe looks fantastic. Would love to win the cookbook - I'm in the US, and please check out my blog at www.miseenplaceagoodplacetostart.blogspot.com.

    Thanks for a great post!

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  12. I learned to love chard when it was a frequent part of our weekly CSA box. Love the recipe! US reader.

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  13. I love swiss chard. I use it a lot to make dal palak partly because it doesn't become completely mushy. It sounds delicious with pine nuts and raisins. Off I go to farmer's market to get some...

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  14. I'm sorry... cheese on collards? Here in the south I think that's considered sacrilege! But if it gets you to eat your greens, go for it! (smiles) I do love swiss chard, and grow it in all it's wonderful hues every year now in my garden. And I hope I get to try this recipe for lemony Swiss Chard soon. It looks great!

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  15. i have to admit i'm a bit put off by swiss chard myself - though this recipe might coax me to try it.

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  16. Maybe I'll try chard soon-I only converted to kale about eight months ago, but I can always use a new green. And a new cookbook =)

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  17. what a gorgeous dish susan! hope you're well, and lovely of you to request a book for a giveaway, I didn't know that was an option!

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  18. I love chard. At the downtown farmers' market this summer, I bought a bunch of swiss chard or rainbow chard just about every week. My favorite way to use it is in lentil soup, though this recipe looks delicious - it's got everything I love in it. :)

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  19. Up until now I have bypassed the Swiss chard but you give me courage Susan!

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  20. to tell you the real truth, we are not so keen on chards, but never say ever forever :-)
    just reading your enthusiasm makes me want to give a try again to these incredible colored vegs!
    good luck to everybody! :-)

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  21. This reminds me of a recipe I made FOREVER ago:
    http://pink-apron.com/2009/06/swiss-chard-with-beets-goat-cheese-and-raisins/

    I thought I didn't like swiss chard until I made it, but the goat cheese and raisins won me over.

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  22. Hi I'd love to enter into the giveaway to win that cookbook. I'm from the UK and my blog's URL is http://sarascookingdiary.blogspot.com/

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  23. I love that zoomed picture of chard.....lemony zing in the recipe makes me carve for it right now.....fingers crossed for the giveaway....book sounds great treasure....

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  24. I love that chard photo! You've inspired me to take more close-ups during my cooking! :)

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  25. I have liked Swiss chard since childhood. After I saw my first bunch of rainbow chard, I fell in love with it again, this time for visual reasons. As your photos also attest, it is photogenic. And lemon is so perfect with it.

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  26. You never cease to amaze me with your talents. Fantastic writing, beautiful photos and the most tantalizing and tempting recipes.

    You know, when I was a kid, my parents kept the onions in the basement for preservation. When my brother and I were playing downstairs, I would often grab an onion, peel it and munch it down :) These days I prefer less onion and garlic and enjoy using asafetida as a substitute.

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  27. I have a new found love of greens! This recipe sounds really good. I live in the US.

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  28. Beautiful swiss chard photo.

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  29. fabulous looking colourful salad
    lovely giveaway would like to enter it
    torviewtoronto@gmail.com
    Canada

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  30. I've never had swiss chard before, maybe I should try it!

    Oh and I live in the US! :)

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  31. I usually cook chards like kale or spinach and we have it in a gravy of lentils(dal). The color combination and flavor combinations are great in this warm salad recipe. Must be great with pastas as well.

    Sowjanya(Texas)

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  32. I have never cooked with Swiss chard till date! Oh, I said it in public!!! May be I should find it n get it to cook ur wonderful recipe:)

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  33. I made this over the weekend and loved it!! Thanks for sharing!

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