Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chard Ribbons with Strawberry and Pine Nut

My toddler daughter Evelyn and I arrived in the Pacific Northwest last week after a seven month jaunt in Thailand. To be honest, it is a refreshing relief to be back in the cool green of Portland. One of our first outings involved the local, sprawling, lively organic farmers market. We found bouquets of swiss chard, collards and kale along with gorgeous Alice-in-Wonderland sized peonies. And the strawberries. Deep red, flavorful, and juicy. Need I say more? A delightful way to spend the afternoon.

For those who are raising an eyebrow at the combination of swiss chard and strawberries, let me reassure you: this is the perfect summertime salad. The chard is marinated in a zesty lemon-Dijon vinaigrette instead of cooked. Plump organic strawberries are a sweet compliment to the peppery tang of the chard. Tossed with a handful of golden brown pine nuts, the flavor is nicely balanced. In this version, the chard is given a slight wilt although it can certainly be served straight away for those who crave more crunch.

Make it completely raw by substituting the pine nuts with hemp seeds or even chopped macadamia.

This is a simple to prepare salad that is surprisingly complex in flavor and a good way to add leafy greens to the diet. Here's to health, well-being, and joy.

Yield: Four Side Servings

For Salad:

1 bunch rainbow swiss chard, chiffonade cut
2 cups quartered strawberries
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

And Vinaigrette:

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoons fresh, coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan sea salt

In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients for the vinaigrette. Add swiss chard and toss until ribbons are well coated. Let stand at room temperature until mildly wilted, about an hour. Next, gently fold in strawberries. Divide salad onto four serving plates and sprinkle with pine nuts and extra black pepper, if desired. 

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."
-Harriet Van Horne

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cooking School: Chiffonade

A chiffonade cut can be used with any leafy herb or green and creates elegant, slender ribbons. For greens such as collards or swiss chard, make sure to remove the tough, central stem so only the tender leaf is used. 

Rinse and pat dry the leaves. Stack 10-12 leaves into an orderly pile. Roll lengthwise into a tight cylinder. Using a sharp knife, slice across the cylinder to create thin ribbons. For herbs, use a close cut. With leafy greens, a wide, one-inch slice works beautifully.