Friday, September 2, 2011

Farm to Table Inspiration: Sautéed Rainbow Chard, Yellow Haricot Verts and Edamame

Today, on the last Friday before Labor Day weekend and a few days after Hurricane Irene battered the Northeast, was one of those perfect lazy summer days.  Robin blue skys, puffy white clouds, bright sun and a cool refreshing breeze signaling the oncoming fall.  It was one of those days for me where you want to throw your arms wide open and spin in a circle before falling down onto the grass, dizzy with the knowledge that you are alive and surrounded by your loved ones. Running errands on a day like this is a pleasure.  And as you all well know, one of my favorite things is heading to the farmer's market to see what treasures they are offering.

Strangely enough, I spent most of my summer away from NYC so this was really the first time I was able to enjoy Union Square's infamous farmer's market since ramp season in May.  So I was really excited to walk among all the locals and tourists this afternoon to see what I could pick up to cook over Labor Day weekend.

Most of the time, I go to the market with a specific list of what I am looking for.  This was one of those rare times that I had no menu or agenda where I let the market decide for me.  There were tons of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes as they are the seasonal fruit of choice at the moment.  Though I glanced longingly at them, they were not purchased as I had heirloom tomatoes waiting at home for me already to use with my burrata (an Italian cheese made from mozzarella and it looks like a mozzarella until you cut into the middle and the sublime gooeyness oozes out).  Instead I decided to pick up some yellow haricot verts and rainbow chard; the fluorescent colors already playing out in my head on the best way to feature it.  Another shopper in line behind me where I was purchasing some outrageously large green and yellow zucchini, eyed my chard's bright green and neon pink leaves hanging out of my straw bag and declared: "It's like art. Are you eating it or taking it home to look at only?" I told her both!
Rainbow chard, a variety of Swiss chard, is a completely new vegetable to me.  I have always looked at it in the supermarket because of its' striking colors, but never picked it up. I knew it was a slightly bitter vegetable that usually appeared in the late summer and early fall in numerous pasta dishes or alongside grilled meats.  As well as being so pretty to look at, swiss chard is also high in fiber, proteins and vitamins A, C & K.

I had been dying to try out the Swiss chard gnudi recipe from Bon Appetit, but I wanted to honor the vegetable's Mediterranean roots and highlight the colors that had grabbed my attention.  Once I mixed the chard into the pasta dough, I knew I was going to lose that visual.

I highly believe in the phrase "you eat with your eyes".  So I decided to make a simple sautée with the rainbow chard, yellow haricot verts and shelled edamame (since I couldn't locate fresh fava beans) with toasted almonds for a little crunch.  With the bright reds, pinks, yellow and green hues, it is a beautiful main vegetarian dish served alongside some quinoa or bulgur. But this dish is also a fresh and light side to a grilled lamb or fish.

Sautéed Rainbow Chard, Yellow Haricot Verts, and Edamame
Serves 4-6

1 bunch rainbow chard, cut 2-inch length
1/4 lb yellow haricot verts, ends trimmed
1/2 cup shelled or frozen edamame
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Handful toasted sliced almonds
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp herbes de Provence
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lemon, juice freshly squeeze

1. Blanch chard and yellow haricot verts in a pot of boiling salted water for approximated 3-4 minutes.  Have a bowl of iced water ready to stop the vegetables from cooking and to retain colors once drained. Drain and put the chard and haricot verts in the iced water immediately.

2. In a large sautée pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and when hot add garlic cloves and almond to the pan.  When lightly brown, add the edamame, chard and haricot verts. Season with the red pepper, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper.

3.  Mix all ingredients together and sautée for another 3-4 minutes.  Feel free to taste it to make sure the vegetables are all salted and seasoned and adjust seasoning accordingly.

4.  Turn stove off, remove from heat and then add lemon juice over vegetables.  Mix quickly to ensure the juice is spread evenly.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.

While I always hate for the warmth of summer to end along with my flip flops, sandals and summer dresses, I can't say I'm sorry when I get to bundle up in my cozy sweaters and sweatshirts while walking Tyler.  Enjoy the dish and the last days of summer.  :)    Soon it will be time for those apple pies to start coming out and the changing of the tree leaves and my cider!