April 16, 2012

Rainbow Chard and Sunflower Seed Pesto

Swiss chard. It’s probably the most beautiful leaf. The way yellow, white, and fuschia veins spread throughout the thick leaves and color the spine. It’s stunning and eye-catching and every time I pass by it in the farmer’s market I do just that… pass by it. Okay, I’ve used swiss chard a couple of times. Wilted it with garlic and wine, used it in salad. But I wanted something different. Something that showcased it’s super rich and deep flavor. Something that made me want to eat swiss chard with a spoon, which is really the preferable vehicle for chard, as it turns out. That or a chip.

Enter chard pesto. Chard dip. The way to make your spoon swoon, your chip weak at the knees, your pasta better than all the rest. I ate it all, still warm, right out of the food processor. Yes, all of it. With a spoon and a couple of chips. That isn’t to say you couldn’t save some for your friends. You could put it on pasta. Spread it on a taco. Mix it in with salad. But sometimes, it’s just good to eat something the way it is. And with a spoon.

Spring garlic, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, and Parmesan make this chard pesto what it is. The spring garlic (or just garlic) adds some depth, the sunflower seeds a certain nuttiness, and the lemon juice brightens it up and pulls everything together. And Parmesan. Where could you go wrong? You couldn’t.

Easy to make. Soften the chard stems in some olive oil with the garlic in the pan. About 4 minutes. Then add the leaves. Wilt them down with the stems and garlic. You’ll end up with this.

Then. Add to your food processor. With a little bit of fresh olive oil. And some lemon juice and cheese. And you’re done. Grab those chips. Mine were falafel chips, which, are my new obsession. Flamous makes some, Trader Joe’s makes some, you should probably get some.

Recipe:

12 stems swiss or rainbow chard

2 cloves garlic

heaping 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 tbsp olive oil +1/2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 – 1/2 cup grated parmesan

salt and pepper as needed

Instructions:

Separate the chard leaves and stems. Cut the stems into about 1/4 inch sections and saute in a pan with olive oil until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Put in the garlic and saute for another minute. Chop or tear the chard leaves into reasonable pieces and saute with the garlic until wilted and tender. Set aside.

Toast sunflower seeds in the oven under a broiler for about a minute or in a hot, dry pan for several minutes until slightly browned. Grate the Parmesan cheese, I used a microplane so that it easily incorporated into the pesto. Put the chard stems and leaves from the pan into a food processor with the sunflower seeds, parmesan, lemon juice, and olive oil. Process until everything is well chopped and well incorporated, it should look close to the consistency of pesto. Taste and salt and pepper as needed. If you like it a little bit more tart, add lemon juice.

Rainbow Chard Pesto
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
a rich and flavorful pesto for pasta and dipping.
Ingredients
  • 12 stems swiss or rainbow chard
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • heaping ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil +1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ - ½ cup grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper as needed
Instructions
  1. Instructions:
  2. Separate the chard leaves from the stems stems.
  3. Cut the stems into about ¼ inch sections and saute in a pan with olive oil until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add in the garlic and saute for another minute.
  5. Chop or tear the chard leaves into reasonable pieces and saute with the garlic until wilted and tender.
  6. Set aside.
  7. Toast sunflower seeds in the oven under a broiler for about a minute or in a hot, dry pan for several minutes until slightly browned.
  8. Grate the Parmesan.
  9. Put the chard stems and leaves from the pan into a food processor with the sunflower seeds, parmesan, lemon juice, and olive oil.
  10. Process until everything is well chopped and well incorporated, it should look close to the consistency of pesto.
  11. Taste and salt and pepper as needed.
  12. If you like it a little bit more tart, add lemon juice.

 

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