Sautéed Rainbow Chard with Pine Nuts

Source: Micki Seibel, May 2013

Source: Micki Seibel, May 2013

To me, chard is one of the best vegetables. The light and delicate flavor has wider appeal to picky dinner guests than kale or collard greens. It’s stands up to cooking better than spinach. It’s wide variety of stem colors from red to yellow to green bring beauty to your plate. Finally, it is so packed with nutrition as to be considered a superfood for optimal health. It’s a superb source of calcium and potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and K, beta-carotene, as well as two carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin). Best of all, is that it can easily be made into a delicious side dish as this recipe demonstrates.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of rainbow, red, or swiss chard
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Remove the center stems from the chard, chop, and set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil, add the chard leaves to blanch for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove the leaves and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside to drain.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the chopped stems and sauté for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the pine nuts, sesame seeds, and large pinch of kosher salt and sauté for 3 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, chop the chard leaves.
  8. Stir in the leaves and the rice wine vinegar and continue to sauté for an additional minute.
  9. Top with freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and serve immediately.

How to Not Screw It Up

  1. The stems of the chard leaves take longer to cook, so if you don’t remove them and cook them separately, you will end up with overcooked leaves and raw, woody stems. 
  2. The trick to this sauté is making sure the ingredients get to the pan in the right order starting with the stems as they take the longest to cook through. Secondly are the sesame seeds and pine nuts. Too much time in the pan, and they burn; too little and they won’t toast and contribute rich flavor.
  3. Do not let those chard leaves blanch in the boiling water for more than two minutes. They need very little cook time. You want flavorful, not mushy.
  4. As such, don’t get lazy after you pull them from the boiling water and forget to run them under cold water. Otherwise, they will continue to cook as they sit and will be mush.
  5. Other than to combine the leaves with the rest of the ingredients you have sautéed, the other point to adding them to the sauté pan at the end is to dry them out before you serve. You want them in the pan at the end for only a minute or two to cook of some of the excess water.