Eating the rainbow

a little earlier this month meant eating swiss chard in multiple ways, since I was a little overzealous at the farmer’s market and it was so beautiful and vibrant that I couldn’t resist.

Swiss chard is a nutritional powerhouse — an excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C, as well as a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and fiber.  It’s also quite colorful and pretty, so it’s as pleasing to the palate as it is to see on the plate!

So what did I do with all the rainbow swiss chard bursting from my fridge?  I made  Crispy Za’atar Salmon with Sauteed Swiss Chard, Grilled Chard with Fava Bean Salad (it’s all about the stems in this particular dish!), and Swiss Chard Cakes.

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Crispy Za’atar Salmon with Sautéed Swiss Chard (recipe adapted from here).

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Four 6-ounce salmon fillets, preferably skin on (about 3/4-inch thick)
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 teaspoons za’atar seasoning
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound Swiss chard, stems cut into 1/2-inch slices, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 tbl lemon juice, or to taste
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat, add onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften and begin to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
  2. While onions are caramelizing, drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over both sides of fish fillets and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Rub each side of each fillet with 1 teaspoon za’atar.
  3. Add chard stems to the onions in the nonstick skillet and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in chard leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice.  Cover and cook until chard leaves are wilted, 2 to 3 minutes more.  Adjust seasoning.  Divide among four plates and wipe pan.
  4. Re-heat non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon oil. Once the oil is hot, add fish to skillet, skin-side down, and sear until skin is golden brown and crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip fish and cook until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, 1 to 2 minutes more.
  5. Serve fish atop the sauteed chard and onions, crispy-skin side up.

**for a more substantial dish, you can stir in cooked israeli couscous or orzo with the chard.

Grilled Rainbow Swiss Chard with Fava Beans (recipe here)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds rainbow Swiss chard stems and center ribs cut out (reserve leaves for another use)
  • 1 cup shelled fresh fava beans (1 1/4 pounds in pods) or shelled fresh or frozen edamame (soybeans; 3/4 pound in pods)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Halve chard stems crosswise and cook in a large pot of boiling salted water until just barely tender, 3 to 5 minutes (depends on thickness). Cool in an ice bath, reserving cooking water, then transfer to a plate.
  2. Return salted water to a boil and cook beans in boiling water 3 minutes, then drain and transfer to ice bath. Gently peel off skins (if using edamame, don’t peel).
  3. Toss chard stems with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Oil grill rack, then grill chard stems, covered only if using a gas grill, turning occasionally, until tender and lightly charred, about 7 minutes. Cut into 1-inch lengths.
  4. Cook garlic in remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring, until just pale golden. Add oregano, beans, and chard and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer to a serving dish and stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with parsley.
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Good things come in small packages

When people ask me if I like surprises, I’m usually a little wary…I’m not that into surprises, particularly if they involve some sort of unwanted public attention or an ‘adventure’ I’m not quite prepared for.  That said, I do like spontaneity, as any of my sometimes exasperated friends and family will attest…as structured as my weekdays can be due to work, my weekends often devolve into spontaneous mini (mis)adventures as I bumble around doing errands, chores, and whatever else catches my whimsy, in the kitchen and outside of the house.  In the cities I’ve lived in, I often can not resist the urge to explore yet another neighborhood or find an excuse to get outside to satisfy my restlessness.

In the kitchen, one package I never mind opening is anything en papillote.  I first tried the technique a few years ago, and recently rediscovered the delight of being presented with a ‘surprise’ for dinner.  😉 This is a wonderful, light, and elegant way to serve salmon, which packs a powerhouse of omega-3 fats, lean protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12/B3/B6, selenium, and phosphorus.  The recipe is also easily adapted to use other ingredients you may have at hand – capers and lemons, tomatoes and olives, asparagus and leeks – the possibilities are endless!

Salmon with Citrus and Fennel en Papillote (serves 2)

Ingredients:

2 skinless salmon filets (about 4-5 oz and 1 inch thick), preferably wild

4 tsp olive oil, divided use

1/2 small blood orange, thinly sliced

1/2 lemon (I used Meyer), thinly sliced with seeds removed

2-3 tsp lemon juice (from other 1/2 of lemon)

1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

4 sprigs dill, roughly chopped

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

parchment paper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut four 12-by-17-inch pieces of parchment paper. Fold each in half crosswise to make a crease, then unfold and lay flat.

2.  In a bowl, toss together 2 tsp olive oil, sliced fennel, blood orange, and lemon slices.
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3.  Season salmon fillets liberally with salt and pepper.

4.  Arrange fennel in a small mound on parchment paper near the crease.  Place salmon on top of the fennel and drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp lemon juice.  Top with dill and then layer orange and lemon slices on top, alternating slices.
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5.  Fold each piece of parchment over, then make small overlapping pleats to seal open sides, creating half-moon-shaped packets.

6.  Bake on rimmed baking sheet for about 10 minutes, until packets are slightly puffed.
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7. Transfer to plates and carefully cut packets open with kitchen shears or a small knife.  Enjoy!
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