Unexpected Edibles - Chard Stems
April 09, 2013 at 5:55 PM
Beautiful as they are, chard stems are often discarded in lieu of their tender leaves. Most recipes call for the greens trimmed and most of us oblige, largely for the practical reason that the stems take longer to cook. Or perhaps because we have no idea what to do with them. Rather than tossing them in the compost, consider ways to highlight their attributes.
Chard stems, at least the rainbow variety, come in an array of astonishing hues. Their color does not fade significantly with cooking and can brighten a pot of vegetable soup (substitute for celery) or plate of roasted root vegetables.
Lightly sautéed, steamed or roasted, their texture softens while maintaining a pleasant crunch. One simple trick to make use of both stems and leaves in the same recipe is to start with just stems in the pan, adding the leaves only a few minutes before the stems are cooked to your liking.
The stems make colorful refrigerator pickles, blank canvases to express your creative whims. Start with a basic vinegar brine (1 cup water, 1 cup 5% acidity vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt) and herbs or spices of your choosing and leave the jar in the fridge up to eight weeks.
If the grill is already lit, blanch a pile of chard stems in salted water, pat them dry and dress with oil and salt for a brief stint over the charcoals. Drizzle with vinaigrette to serve.