I cooked two new things for lunch today: Kasha and Chard. The chard was a gift from my friend Jane and it was beautiful. I believe it came from the Clintonville Farmer’s Market but I’m not sure which farm.
I used to avoid leafy greens because my mother is allergic to spinach and for that reason we never ate it at home. My uncle, a keen gardener, once ate so much of his abundant chard harvest that he gave himself a blod clot (or so the family myth goes). These reasons combined with the fear that a similar fate might befall me, and the fact that chard is very rare in the UK, mean that it was something I was not familiar with growing up.
I have been tempted to buy chard from the market with its pretty multi-colored stems but there are always too many other things that I want to buy and though I admired it, I never brought it home.
On Jane’s advice I stir-fried the chard, with garlic. First cooking the chopped stems and then later adding the chopped leaves which are much quicker to cook. I added some red pepper flakes, Japanese mixed pepper spice and a dash of soy sauce and a little water to help steam the chard a little at the end. The stems were a beautiful bright pink and could have been mistaken for thin rhubarb.
Some things I learned about Chard today:
It looks like you have an awful lot when it is raw, but as soon as you cook it, you wonder where it all disappeared to.
You need to cook the stems for a lot longer than the leaves. One recipe suggested boiling them for 5 minutes first but I just stir-fried them for longer.
Chard tastes a lot better than beet greens, it is not as bitter.
I served the chard on a bed of kasha, a nutty buckwheat grain that I had only knowingly eaten before in mixed grain cereals. I bought the kasha from the bulk food section of Wholefoods some time ago, perhaps with a recipe in mind, perhaps on a whim. Looking up how long to cook it for, I discovered the advice to toast the grains before you cook them both for flavor and to help prevent them sticking. Out came the iron skillet and I toasted the grains until fragrant and until they were darker in color. I used 1 cup of kasha and two cups of water (I would have used some bouillon but I have run out and couldn’t be bothered to defrost any stock). The kasha cooked in under 10 minutes, absorbed all the water and did not stick. The fragrance of the cooked grains is very reminiscent of pancakes but without the sweetness. According to Veganomicon it goes well with beets, mushrooms and other earthy flavors. Peter Berley has a recipe for a winter root casserole with kasha and it may have been that recipe that prompted me to buy it in the first place.
I thought that the kasha and chard combination worked really well and topped it off with some sriracha hot sauce. I ate less than half, so will try the rest chilled in a salad. Browsing online I found a couple of recipes that I think sound good: Spicy kasha vegetable salad from the blog fat free vegan and butternut squash and kasha salad which is a Wholefoods recipe. Maybe I should download the Wholefoods recipe app for my iphone!