Not long ago, Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen posted a fabulous-looking recipe for chard stems. It had never occurred to me to cook chard stems separately from the rest of the chard—while I realize they’re tougher than the leaves and require a slightly longer cooking time, I’ve always circumvented that issue by just cooking them first, then adding the leaves later.
I’ll admit a little laziness is at play, too. I’m not one to spend the time actually slicing the leaves from the chard stems. I tend, instead, to take my bunch of chard and chop it up almost like I’m chiffonading basil—I roll it into a monster log of leaves, then slice narrow ribbons by cutting perpendicular to the log. It’s effective, albeit unorthodox.
When I have worked my way through the leaves, I just chop up the part of the stems that stick out at the bottom, and keep those in a separate pile. I usually trim the bottom quarter-inch or so of the stems, just to keep the raggedy pieces out of whatever I’m cooking.
When I actually get to the cooking part, I usually toss in the stems and garlic (in the case of the garlic photographed to the left, it’s garlic I actually grew in my very own garden, and therefore I swear it’s that much more delicious…) at the same time—that seems to create just the right balance of cooking time. In this case, I mix spinach and the chard leaves, and put them in later, and generally cook them just long enough to wilt them down. The result? Perfectly cooked stems, perfectly cooked leaves, and a delicious side dish that I could eat just about every day.
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 10 oz. bag baby spinach leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
- Wash and dry the chard, then remove the stems from the leaves in any method you deem appropriate (To do this IG-style, chop the stems off at the base of the leaves, and be sure to trim the very bottom parts). Chop the stems into 1/2-inch lengths and set them aside.
- Roll the leaves together into a big log, as if you were making a chiffonade of basil, and slice thin strips by cutting perpendicular to the log.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan, and when it is hot, add the garlic and the chard stems. Sauté, stirring often, until the garlic just starts to brown and the stems are softening up.
- Add the sliced chard leaves and the spinach a few handfuls at a time, stirring the mixture until what you’ve put in is cooked down enough to make room for the next handfuls. Once all the chard and spinach is in the pan, put a lid on it and wait for about a minute or two.
- Remove the lid, stir, add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.