Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beautiful Side Dishes

Readers may remember that I love to cook from Joanne Harris’ and Fran Warde’s cookbook, The French Market. If I ever come close to cooking every recipe in a particular cookbook, this may be the one I'll choose. (I won't do it in a year, and I won't blog about it.) I've made a number of dishes from this book: I love the Poulet Chausseur (a sort of French Cacciatore), the Chèvre aux Figues, which always gets rave reviews when I bring it to gatherings, and the wonderful and homey Lentilles du Puy, which I've posted about before.

The book contains wonderful side dish recipes for all seasons. As all manner of greens are beautiful in my area this time of year, I elected to try the Bettes du Vigneron, or Vineyard-Style Swiss Chard.

This recipe calls for Swiss Chard, a sliced onion, garlic, raisins, toasted pine nuts, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. So I assembled my ingredients. I toasted the pine nuts, gathered some raisins, a Meyer lemon, and sea salt.

I washed and chopped my Chard.

I sliced my onion (I chose a red onion - I thought its sharpness would be great with the other flavors), and sautéed it with the chard stems. When they were soft, I added the chard leaves, the minced garlic, and some salt and pepper. I upped the heat a bit and sautéed them just till the leaves were softened. Then I added the raisins and pine nuts, sprinkled on the lemon juice, and mixed it all up.

Wow! The slight bitterness of the chard, the sweetness of the raisins, the sharpness of the onions and lemon and the nutty crunch of the pine nuts were such a lovely flavor combination! So much better than the quick sauté in oil and garlic that I usually do with chard!

I suppose one would normally serve a vegetable like chard with a white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc. However, I think that the addition of the raisins and onions provides opportunity for fuller bodied whites - perhaps a Viognier - or a light bodied red. Quite delicious!

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