Swiss chard with crispy rice

Welcome to FLAVORweekly column on how to cook local produce according to our test kitchen manager, Fatima Khawaja. This is where you’ll find creative, no-fuss meal ideas, plus plenty of culinary advice – like what to do with that bountiful harvest of zucchini or how to store delicate heirloom tomatoes. Every week, Fátima goes to the farmers market and chooses a high season ingredient to explore in depth. Follow along and you’ll learn how to turn the season’s bounty into easy plant-based meals that will be on the table in under an hour.

At this time of year, at the farmers market, we are spoiled for choice by the many types of greens to choose from, but I can never resist Swiss chard with its rainbow of colorful stems. Unlike tougher greens like kale and kale, Swiss chard loves to cook quickly, making it perfect in last-minute French fries.

Swiss chard, which is closely related to beet leaves, is not just a plant. There’s rhubarb chard (not to be confused with real rhubarb greens, which are toxic!), with its forest green leaves and fuschia stems. There is ruby ​​chard, which you can recognize by its pink-veined greens. These heirloom varieties are slightly more bitter than the more widely available and more widely available green or soft rainbow cultivars, the latter of which come in a variety of cheerful colors.

No matter what kind you find on the market, the quick and easy dinner options are endless. I love adding the greens to veggie tacos with chipotle and mushrooms, or serving them cold in this Japanese-style seaweed salad riff. But this season, I can’t get enough of this simple stir-fry.

When buying Swiss chard, budget for one bunch (10 to 12 ounces) per crowd of four and look for specimens with uniform green leaves and turgid stems. (If the greens get a little wilted in the fridge, don’t be afraid – just soak them in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes and they’ll get crispy again.)

Any type of Swiss chard will do in this quick dish that uses the tender leaves and stems. It comes together in a flash using pantry items like sesame oil and rice wine vinegar, which scent the greens quickly as they brown. I like to use this technique from the excellent new cookbook by J. Kenji López-Alt The Wok: Recipes and Techniques, which requires quick blanching before the greens reach the pan. This not only preserves its green color; It also allows you to move quickly in the wok and focus on the charred spots.
A large, hot wok is ideal for this dish, but a wide, heavy-bottomed pot or pan will also do. Just be sure to turn up the heat so you’re browning the greens instead of steaming them. The recipe has a forgiving formula: No jasmine rice? Use basmati. Don’t have sesame oil? Just increase the amount of vegetable oil. The same goes for rice wine vinegar, which you can swap for another mild vinegar or even citrus juice.


Swiss chard with crispy rice

A screaming hot wok is the secret to this gingerbread veggie dish.

Harvest: serves 4

Time:

20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch (10 oz) rainbow chard, cleaned

  • ¼ cups sesame oil, divided

  • 3 teaspoons. vegetable oil or other neutral oil, divided

  • 3 cups of cooked jasmine rice

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • One 1 in. piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (2 tbsp.)

  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

  • 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar, plus more to taste

  • kosher salt

  • 1 Tablespoon. toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Using your hands or a knife, remove the leaves from the stalks, then cut the leaves into 1-inch pieces and the stalks into ¼-inch pieces.

  2. Bring a wok two-thirds full of water to a boil. Add the stalks and simmer for 30 seconds, then add the leaves and cook until bright green, about 30 seconds more. Drain, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and refrigerate to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, return the wok to the stove and turn the heat to high. When the pan starts to smoke, add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. Add the rice and, using the back of a spoon, press it into the sides of the wok to make a pancake about ½ inch thick. Fry, without stirring, until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a plate and tent with foil.

  4. In the empty wok, add the remaining sesame oil and vegetable oil. When it starts to smoke, add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring continuously, until light brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chili flakes, cook for another 5 seconds, then add the reserved Swiss chard and fry, until the greens are lightly charred but still shiny and crispy, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the rice wine vinegar and season with salt to taste.

  5. Scrape the chard onto the rice cake, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve hot.

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