I never ate greens until 9 years ago.
I lived in Baltimore, and each week at the Waverly farmer’s market I’d walk past the shoppers piling giant plastic shopping bags full of leafy kale, collards, chard, turnip, and mustard greens, wondering what on earth they were doing with so many? I knew next to nothing about Southern-style greens, and eventually and timidly bought a single bunch to try out. The woman next to me, stuffed ever more into her bulging bag
Nervous about what to do with them, I read articles and recipes, trying to figure out how I would like
I got a handle on a few recipes we liked and then a few years later moved to Texas, and into the land of still more Southern-style greens. By then, I loved them with religious-like fervor and thought nothing when I served them at my son’s post baptism luncheon. A few family members looked up in surprise, “We are supposed to eat these weeds, Sandra?”
“Just try it,” I said.
I can’t vouch for everyone, but I recall my dad saying, “That’s actually pretty good, I wasn’t expecting that.” It starts there. Earthy, mellow, bold, bitter, and bright- a proper bowl of greens is a rewarding meal that tastes as dynamic as it is good for you.
Most people I teach to make this recipe, have never cooked greens before- so those 2 bunches of chard may seem like a LOT. I assure you the same way that mama at farmer’s market stall laughed quietly beside me and my single bunch, it will cook down, down, down to a wee puddle of greens.
Also, they will be easy to make, easy to love, and use up- if there are any leftovers. These greens disappear at every class- people who didn’t know they like greens or have disliked more assertive greens in the past (like collards or mustard greens) fall easily for chard. After spinach, chard is the easiest to love of all greens- and this foolproof recipe really puts it at it’s best.
I’ve adapted and tinkered with a recipe I love from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, simplifying and adjusting to using only ingredients from the list of 20 for the FALL 20/20: chard, cilantro, shallots, and coconut oil. Though Madison offered her original recipe on its own, it has evolved into a foundational dish in my kitchen. I love the flavors on their own, but it’s downright brilliant in a grilled cheese sandwich, taco, stirred into soup or rissoto or as a nest for a poached egg.
Be sure to check the bonus points section at the bottom of t for expansion— I adore every single one. If you’ve resisted braised greens, don’t anymore; try this easy to cook and easy to love pot of green gold.
Braised Cilantro Chard Tangle
50 minutes, mostly inactive time • Makes 3 cups, Serves 4-6
2 bunches chard (about 2 lbs.), including stems
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup chopped shallots
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ bunch cilantro, finely chopped
¼ cup water
Wash chard until no grit remains, then chop the stems and slice the leaves into 1-inch ribbons. While prepping the greens, preheat a pot over medium heat. Add the oil, and when it is heated, add the shallots, followed by the salt, pepper, chard, cilantro, and water. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.
- Grilled Cheese and Greens: Make a sandwich on whole grain sourdough with a generous spread of greens between sharp white cheddar or gruyère cheese. Cook in butter or olive oil.
- Huaraches or Tacos: Pile on greens and a sprinkle of queso fresco or melty, smoky mozzarella. Salsa verde for the win.
- Instant Pot Cilantro Chard Tangle: Use the saute feature while adding ingredients then pressure cook on manual setting for 2 minutes.
- Add: A poached egg in a bowlful of greens, serve with garlicky toast, stir leftovers into soup, fried rice, an omelet, or with some rice and hot sauce. Add in paprika, garlic, or chiles for even more flavor.