March 31, 2021
Consuming cooling foods such as crudités, salads and lassis in the summer and warming foods (spicy rich stews and soups) in the winter seems like common sense — it also happens to be one of Ayurveda’s basic tenets. This often clashes with Texas growing seasons because lettuces and hardy greens thrive under cooler conditions and flail in the scorching heat.
Determined to eat as many local vegetables as I can, I instinctively find myself either lightly sautéeing the heartier greens, dropping them into soups or curries at the last minute or tossing delicate torn lettuce leaves into warm rice or quinoa pilafs. So last week when the smiling vendor at Sustainable Harvesters at the Urban Harvest farmers market handed us a giant, gorgeous bunch of fuchsia- and turmeric-colored Swiss chard, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.
There are many reasons to incorporate chard into our daily diet. A descendant of the wild beet, Swiss chard is not from Switzerland (it was named by a Swiss botanist) but grew wild in parts of the Mediterranean, particularly Sicily, Italy. In medieval times, when medicine came from food, chard was used to alleviate chronic pain, allergies and constipation. High in antioxidants and dietary fiber, one cup of braised chard provides more than the recommended daily dose of vitamin A. Enjoy this pilaf with soup or dal, curried lentils.
1 cup long-grain basmati rice
1 large cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 large bunch Swiss chard
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 cup sliced leeks or onions (optional)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped herbs (such as parsley or cilantro)
Juice of one lemon or lime
Rinse the rice 2 to 3 times in cold tap water and soak for an hour or more. Drain. Combine with 2 cups of water, cinnamon stick, turmeric, black pepper, chile powder, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Let the rice rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Mince the stems of the chard and tear the remaining leaves into bite-sized pieces.
In a separate frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and quickly pop the mustard seeds.
Add the leeks, minced garlic, and remaining salt and cook on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the leeks and chard stem pieces have wilted.
Fold this mixture into the rice gently along with the torn chard leaves, pumpkin seeds, and remaining olive oil.
Garnish with chopped herbs and fresh lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Instead of rice, use white quinoa. Quinoa does not need to be soaked, and the portions remain the same.
Instead of chard, use kale, mustard greens, or dandelion greens.
To turn this pilaf into more of the main course, add sliced chicken or shrimp when sautéing the leeks.
December 02, 2022