Oh people, I tell you don’t mess with a good thing when you know you have one. It’s like this – you have this amazing, perfect food that is best at its simplest preparation, and you love making it and in fact you make it all the time, but always feel a bit of a cheat. I mean, take for instance Swiss chard – perhaps one of my and KS’s favorite vegetables. We eat it a few times a month and our method has most often been steaming it. With washing and trimming off the stems, the whole process takes a few minutes, no more. We sprinkle a bit of salt over our steamed chard and eat it plain as a side to our meals. It’s a “meaty” green and tastes best, to us anyway, this way.
But I always feel as if I’m cheating and being lazy. Anyone can steam chard – it’s not exactly cooking, nor is it particularly “sexy” blog material. No one will read about steamed chard and rush to the kitchen to make it – it’s as easy as it gets, a “duh” of the recipes – too embarrassingly simple to write about. But it seems to be that the “duh” is the hidden “aha” in this case.
The trouble was that this dish was like a good thing gone bad. Or as KS put it, I took a good, clean, wholesome dish, and turned it into a cheap, street hussy. And that’s kind of how I felt about it too – Swiss chard went from noble to common.
This recipe here was all kinds of wrong – the sauce was overpowering, it took over chard’s natural taste and flavor and as a result, neither the sauce, nor the chard were all that noteworthy. A disaster it was not, but really, it was a disappointment all around. Food Network, (Bobby Flay, even though this wasn’t your recipe, I’m looking at you!) I was hoping for a better recipe. I suppose a lesson learned here is that sometimes the simplest is really the best. Tomorrow, I will tell you about what happens when you mess with a classic, tried-and-true recipe by getting that last minute “creativity” spark – nothing good to say the least, but for that, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow. I hope the cooking blunders will stop at that for awhile.
Adapted from Food Network
10 large Swiss chard stalks and leaves
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 whole medium hot chile, or 1/4 teaspoon dried red chilies
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Separate Swiss chard stems from leaves. Chop the stems and set the leaves aside. Saute stems in olive oil until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Coarsely chop the leaves. Add the garlic, peppers, chard leaves, and soy and cook until tender. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.