Whole foods are medicine to our bodies that heal, protect, and boost our immune system. One of those 'powerhouse' (term used by WebMD) whole foods is the leafy green vegetable swiss chard.
My last shopping trip to the grocery was a quest for interesting, colorful vegetables. While searching for veggies that 'popped', I ran across rainbow chard, the leafy green that got its name from its multi-colored stem. My first impression was 'I gotta try it.'
There's no doubt first impressions matter, not only in job hunting or physical attraction but also in food choices. Think about it, our first encounter with food is based on how it looks...our first impression. After the initial encounter, we make a decision to either take the next step or walk away. If we decide to continue on, a type of 'food seduction' takes place and we test the pheromones, I mean the aroma of the food. If it smells good, we take a bite. Only one of the five senses is left out of the equation...hearing. Of course, if your dinner companion is a lip-smacking open-mouthed eater, you may not ask him/her out on a second date.
What are the health benefits of rainbow chard? There are seventeen nutrients found in our leafy green friend: potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.
I've tried many leafy greens except for chard. I'm so happy I gave it a whirl. It's delicious and I'm using my 'go-to' recipe for sautéing leafy vegetables.
Large bunch rainbow chard (or any swiss chard)
2/3 T. EVOO
2 garlic cloves (chopped and minced)
1/4 Tsp. red pepper flakes
Fresh squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash your leaves and pull away from the stems. Chop the stems into 1/2 inch slices. Chop the leaf into two inch slices.
Add an S-shaped amount of EVOO to a sauté' pan. Turn to medium/high. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until the smell of garlic hits you in the face (a minute or two).
Add the stems until slightly softened. Turn the heat to medium. Then, add the leaves. Turn the heat to medium/low. As they begin to wilt, salt and pepper to taste. Add some lemon zest and a generous squeeze of lemon.
After a couple of minutes, take the chard off the heat, add a few more red pepper flakes to top-off the dish and serve. (One bunch serves 2-3).
Sweet potato gnocchi with fresh sage, pancetta, and parmesan cheese for an incredibly tasty dish that gives back times ten.
The potato gnocchi originated from Northern Italy and can be made with different types of grains and various potatoes. In this particular recipe from riverboat chef Jeff Fleming, he uses flour for the dough and sweet potatoes. When chef ran the kitchen at B. Russell's, I got to experience several of his sweet potato dishes. B. Russell's was very elegant with the most beautiful 'New York' style bar area. It's been closed awhile now. Only recently, Strickland's Seafood opened in that space. Support local.
Fleming's dishes are always a treat and this one will not disappoint. Thanks for being so generous with your time and talent. Enjoy!
1 1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes
2 c all purpose flour
1 large egg beaten
4 oz. pancetta (any good bacon will sub or simply omit)
4 tbs. UNSALTED butter
8-10 large sage leaves (fresh is really the only option here)
Fresh shaved or grated good quality Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Poke holes all over each sweet potato with a fork, then rub with oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until tender (when pierced with a fork) about 40 minutes. Set aside to cool then simply peel the skins off .
Quarter each sweet potato and pass thru a ricer. If you don’t have one, use the large side of a box grater(you really don’t want a food processor involved. It creates heat and that’s BAD). Discard any stringy bits. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to mix.
Bring a large wide pot of water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, whisk to combine the flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Create a well in the center. Add the riced/grated sweet potatoes and egg. Gently fold with a rubber spatula until just combined. DO NOT OVERWORK DOUGH nobody likes tough gnocchi's.
Transfer the dough to a generously floured work surface. Bring the dough together with your hands, adding up to 1/4 cup flour, until the dough is just slightly sticky and can be patted into a disk. Let rest on the work surface, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 equal wedges. Working with one wedge at a time, roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick log on a lightly floured surface. Cut each log into about thirty pieces. (The gnocchi will be slightly sticky in the center). Transfer to a baking sheet and cover with a dish towel.
Remember you can leave this part out, however, much more savory. Cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, in a medium skillet over medium heat until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Remove the skillet from the heat and reserve the skillet with the fat in it.
Generously season the boiling water with salt. Reduce the heat to medium and carefully drop a batch of gnocchi into the water and cook until they begin to float; remove to a serving platter with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.
This next step is a tricky but not a difficult step. Go low and slow until you’re used to it. Try to have everything ready to go like sage chopped & parmesan grated.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the UNSALTED butter (the reason for unsalted is not only control of sodium but salted butter burns butter faster). Cook, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula, until brown flecks appear, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sage and gently fry in the brown butter until just crispy, about 1 minute (the sage will stop the browning process).
Pour the melted butter on the cooked gnocchi. Top with the sage leaves and crispy pancetta pieces. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan, if desired. Enjoy while warm.
This may sound difficult but it’s really a very simple recipe. It’s a true fall/winter dish that will make your home smell like a fine dining restaurant. Try this other ways but really with the sweet potatoes you don’t want to overpower their flavor.