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Chard Stems and Greens with Sesame-Yogurt Sauce and Black Sesame Seeds

July 11, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Vegetables | Post comment

Chard Stems and Greens with Sesame-Yogurt Sauce and Black Sesame Seeds

Swiss chard is very plentiful during the summer and often better than it is in the winter, partly because the leaves are not overgrown, especially those found at farmers markets.  Too often the stems are thrown away, but they’re quite good to eat.  The most simple way to prepare them is to simmer them in a little salted water until tender then drain them and dress them with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Add the cooked greens and the sesame yogurt sauce and you have an excellent cooked vegetable salad for a hot day.

Should you just have the stems leftover from another adventure with chard, make this dish without the greens and it will be good that way, too.  I almost always buy Rainbow chard because their stems are pink, orange, scarlet, yellow and white. Sadly these dazzling colors fade as they cook, but they still make a handsome dish. The amounts are a suggestion – they’re what I get when I’ve taken the stems from two bunches of chard. If I have more, or fewer stems, it makes no difference. Same with the greens, which you can mix with the fresh tops of beet greens. The point is to enjoy the entire plant, not just part of it.

Ingredients

about 8 ounces chard stems, trimmed into pieces 4 inches long
sea salt
olive oil, about 1 tablespoon
1 large garlic clove, halved
12 to 20 chard leaves
1 lemon, quartered

The Sesame Yogurt Sauce
1 tablespoon tahini
1/3 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
 

Preparation

Bring a shallow skillet of water to a boil.  Add salt, a teaspoon of oil, half the garlic clove, the chard stems and simmer until they’re tender. The best way to find out is to remove one, slice into it and take a bite. This can take as little as 4 or 5 minutes, or somewhat longer, depending on their age and size. Remove them with tongs to a colander. Pour out most of the water from the skillet, then add the chard leaves. Cook, covered, until they’re tender – again, break off a leaf and taste. With smaller leaves this can be just a matter of a few minutes; longer with larger, tougher leaves. Drain them separately from the stems, then toss with a teaspoon or two of olive oil and season with salt, if needed.

To make the sauce, pound the remaining half garlic clove in a mortar with ¼ teaspoon salt until mushy.  Add the tahini and yogurt and work into a smooth sauce. Toast the sesame seeds in a skillet over medium heat until they begin to smell fragrant, after several minutes, then turn them onto a plate so they don’t burn.

To serve, loosely arrange the chard leaves on individual plates (or a platter) and cover with the stems.
Add a spoonful of the sauce to each plate and a wedge of lemon. Garnish with the sesame seeds. Serve chilled at room temperature.

Serves 2 to 4

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