Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tuna and White Bean Salad with Chard

Buying a farm share, joining a CSA, or even just going to the farmer's market is a great way to get the best vegetables in season, but particularly with the former, you can end up with a lot of dark, leafy greens over the course of a season. Kale, chard, dandelion greens - they're wonderful for you but it's easy to get stymied trying to figure out what to do with them.

Most of my preparations for the dark greens that are too stiff or bitter to eat raw begin with the step: "Chop and saute with olive oil, garlic, and salt." Many of them will taste just fine that way, but a pile of fried greens may be a tough sell to some eaters and it's not that visually appealing, let's be honest. So I've tried to develop a few ways to integrate them into more versatile offerings. Below, red chard tints the salad a unique (though I don't think unappetizing) pink. It's also a great protein source for a midsummer-twist on the Nicoise salad, and does well when composed with the green beans, beets and tomatoes available at the same time.

The base recipe augmented here is Sauteed Swiss Chard with Onions.


For chard:
2 large bunches chard
2 tblsp. olive oil
2 tblsp. unsalted butter
2 medium red onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

For beans:
1 c. dried white kidney beans, soaked overnight, then boiled until tender (do not salt)
2 cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 6 oz. can tuna fish (packed in oil or water)
1 lemon

Prep the chard by rinsing in a large bowl of cold water and then removing the ribs (you will use both): cut off the very ends of the stems, but leave an inch or two at the base. Holding the stem between thumb and forefinger, loosely close your other hand just above the base of the leaf and then pull down - you want to separate the leaf from the stem. Alternatively, fold the leaves in half, and cut just alongside the rib with a large knife to separate. Chop the stems into 1-inch pieces. Chiffonade the leaves by stacking several, then rolling up into a cylinder and slicing thinly. If the ribbons are very long, you can cross-chop with one or two strokes.

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy pan over medium heat until butter foam subsides. Add the garlic and onion along with 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften - about 6 or 7 minutes. Add stems and continue cooking until tender, about another 10 minutes. Finally, add chard leaves in batches, adding each as soon as the previous wilts (you may cover briefly to speed the wilting), and saute until leaves are tender, about 6-8 more minutes.

Remove the chard from the heat and combine with beans and tuna in a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon over the mixture while still warm and season (aka salt and pepper) to taste.

As with many cold salads, the flavors will blend and improve in the fridge.

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