RECIPE: Garlicky Wilted Greens and Beans with Croutons

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Chard, like spinach, is one of the most mild-tasting cooking greens — sweet, slightly earthy, and succulent. When using both the stem and leaves, as you do in this recipe, cut the stalks crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces and cook first to tenderize. The chard is ready when it has cooked for at least five minutes, and has no raw taste. Many people tend to just wilt Swiss chard without cooking it but that can sometimes create a slight metallic taste from the oxalic acid in the vegetable. If you can buy younger, smaller bunches from a local farm, you’ll be rewarded with more tender and tastier results. Either way, this plant-based “beans and greens” is a winning recipe and can be made in less than 30 minutes on a weeknight. Don’t skip the croutons! The recipe comes from Vanessa Seder, a Portland, ME-based recipe developer and author of Eat Cool and Secret Sauces. Serves 4.

Ingredients

3 pounds rainbow chard (about 2 bunches)

2 cups freshly torn bread, from a sourdough or other rustic white bread  

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 cups pre-cooked Vermont cranberry or other beans or 1 can (14-ounce) cannellini beans, rinsed 

1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 2 organic lemons)

1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon thinly sliced Calabrian chilies (see note)  or crushed red pepper

Sea salt 

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the rainbow chard. Coarsely chop both the leaves and stems separately. Set aside.
  2. In a large high-sided skillet, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the torn bread and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until golden, crisp, and lightly toasted. Transfer to a small bowl. 
  3. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the same skillet and add the garlic and chopped rainbow chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp tender and caramelized, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped chard leaves and two tablespoons water and cook, using tongs to toss occasionally until cooked, about 5 minutes more. If not all the leaves fit in the skillet, slowly add more in batches as they cook down. 
  4. Gently stir in the beans, lemon zest, lemon juice, and chilies, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the rainbow chard and beans to a serving platter and top with the croutons. Serve immediately.

Cooking Note: Calabrian chilies, typically found jarred in supermarkets, are a type of chili pepper grown in the Southern Italian region of Calabria. Used often in pasta or pizza sauces, they impart a medium to hot level of heat to dishes.

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Vanessa Seder
Vanessa Seder
Vanessa Seder has worked in the food industry for close to 20 years as a recipe developer, food stylist, chef instructor, and author. Her cookbooks include: Eat Cool, (which received positive reviews from the New York Times and elsewhere) and the award-winning Secret Sauces. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, Vanessa has developed recipes for Real Simple, All You, Health, Cooking Light, Hannaford’s Fresh, Ladies Home Journal—where she previously served as an associate food editor, and Maine The Way, among others. She lives with her family in Portland, Maine. She can be found online at vanessaseder.com and Instagram @vseder.

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