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Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Super Swiss Chard

There's a lot of talk about so-called "Superfoods", and many of them are probably things you're already eating, like blueberries, salmon, oats, yogurt, and spinach, but there are so many more that may not be as easy to cook or pair with other foods to enjoy in a recipe.

Dark, leafy greens are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals. One of my favorite leafy green vegetables are Swiss Chard. Swiss Chard is a beautifully colored vegetable that sometimes has bright orange, yellow and magenta stems, which are edible. The bright colors of the stems make for a gorgeous palate for serving the greens steamed, sauteed or in soup. Swss Chard is a great source of Vitamins C, K and A, as well as Magnesium, fiber, Folate and Biotin.

There is a lot of talk about how we should eat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt in order to get the calcium we need, but did you know that dark, green leafy vegetables are a better source of calcium than diary?! In just one cup of Swiss Chard, there is a whopping 101 mg of the calcium your body needs in order to keep your bones strong. Unlike dairy, eating Chard will give you the dietary fiber your body needs to keep your heart and digestive system operating at peak performance.

When cooking Chard, like other vegetables, it is essential to avoid over-cooking them, which will kill their nutrients and vitamins. Keep the colors bright, once the bright colors of your veggies fade as a result of cooking them too long, the vitamins are all but obliterated. While steaming and sauteeing Chard is a great way to enjoy it as a side dish, I also love the recipe below because it's a different way to prepare them when you're looking for a change of pace. I also like this recipe because all of the other vegetables make for a filling, colorful soup that's quick and easy to prepare. Enjoy!

Hearty Vegetable Soup with Swiss Chard and Sausage

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 large onions, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, sliced into half-moons
1 bunch Swiss Chard, washed thoroughly and leaves torn. Save the stems.
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can canelinni beans, drained
1 lb. Italian Sausage with fennel (can be pork or turkey). Squeeze the sausage out of the skin and discard the skin.
Matt's Mix seasoning, as needed (or salt and pepper)
Canola oil or pure olive oil, as needed


Add a small amount of oil to the bottom of a large stock pot and brown the sausage. Once the sausage is browned, remove it from the pot and set aside. Take the onions and saute them in the pot until nicely caramelized. If more oil is needed in order to keep them from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot, add a small amount of oil. Saute the garlic with the onions.

Once the onions are nicely browned, add about one cup of stock to the pot and stir vigorously and scratch the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release the nicely browned bits from the bottom. Add the carrots and the rest of the stock. Simmer for about ten minutes and meanwhile, slice the Swiss Chard stems into half moons (like celery). Set aside.

Add the zucchini and the Chard stems to the soup pot and simmer for about 5 more minutes. Add the sausage back to the pot and add the beans. Stir everything together. Add some seasoning and adjust to taste. Add the Chard leaves last and stir just to wilt them. Serve.

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