We normally think of the leaves as the edible part of this plant, but ruby chard’s deep red stems cook up as a tender, delicious little vegetable all on their own. This recipe celebrates it all! You remove the stems from the leaves and cook everything separately (enabling the stems to retain their glorious color), then recombine all the components, for a visually stunning side dish.
Chard can carry a lot of silt—and then retain a lot of water on its craggy leaves—so wash and dry it thoroughly before you begin.
Ruby Chard Decorated with Itself
- 1 pound ruby chard, washed in several changes of water and thoroughly dried
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup minced red onion
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup lightly toasted pine nuts (optional)
- Use a very sharp knife to remove the stems from the chard leaves. Coarsely chop the leaves and set them aside. Trim and discard the very tips of the stems (as well as any dinged up edges), and mince the rest.
- Place a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. After about a minute, add about 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Toss in the chard stems and the onion, turn the heat up to medium-high, and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired, then transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl, and set aside.
- Without cleaning it, return the pan to the stove over medium heat. Pour in the vinegar, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to very low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour this slightly reduced vinegar over the stem–onion mixture in the bowl.
- Return the still-uncleaned pan to the stove over medium heat, wait another minute, then add the remaining olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high, and toss in the chard leaves. Cook quickly, turning with tongs as you go, until the leaves are wilted. This will only take a couple of minutes. You can salt the leaves lightly while they cook if you wish.
- When the leaves are done to your liking, transfer them to a serving plate or bowl, and taste to adjust salt. Add black pepper to taste, then spoon the stem mixture over the top, being sure to include all the juices. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, topped with pine nuts, if desired.
Nutrition facts:Per 1/4 of recipe, including pine nuts 200 calories 4 grams of protein 10 grams of carbohydrates 3 grams of fiber 280 milligrams of sodium 16 grams of fat ( 2 grams of saturated fat 8 grams of monounsaturated fat 6 grams of polyunsaturated fat )
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