swiss chard

Tuscan Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

It’s March and somehow we’re still getting snow! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the snow, but it feels a bit more appropriate to have a snowfall in January and February with sub-zero temperatures, rather than a snow flurry followed by a fifty-degree sunny day- oh well! At least the weather is giving me one more excuse to keep riding the soup train and make up some simple, nourishing lunches.

Of all the countries we have traveled to, Italy is hands down our favorite. We love the people, the history, the wine, and, of course, the food! In Tuscany, there is a soup called ribollita that uses copious amount of Tuscan kale and gets it’s thickness from creamy white beans and tomato puree. It is savory, yet sweet all in one bite and has the perfect heft for a filling lunch soup.

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This Italian classic inspired my lunch prep for this week, but with a few minor adjustments. In an effort to mix up my leafy green intake, rather than use kale I threw in some rainbow Swiss chard. Chard is quite high in vitamins C, K, and A, meaning it is perfect for fighting off winter colds and helping combat oxidative stress and inflammation. It packs a punch in the fiber department, so is great for balancing blood sugars and dropping your LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol.

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My version also uses farro instead of toasted bread for the carbohydrate component. If you haven’t yet cooked with this ancient grain I stongly encourage you to pick up a bag! Farro is exceptionaly high in fiber and protein, both of which help with insulin sensitivity (meaning your cells are very open to taking in glucose from the blood and using it for energy) and provides immense satisfaction and keeps hunger at bay.

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This recipe serves 3 portions, so you and your sweetie could each have a bowl for dinner one night, and the remaining can get packed up for lunch. Or if you’re lucky, like me, you get to enjoy it all for yourself for 3 days of lunches.

Enjoy!

Tuscan Bean and Swiss Chard Soup- serves 3

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped into small dice, leaves torn into bite-size pieces

  • 1 tsp of each- dried thyme, rosemary, oregano

  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes

  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup cooked farro

  • 1 (15 oz.) can low sodium cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • For garnish- shaved parmesan, chopped flat leaf parsley, balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, swiss chard stems, and a pinch of salt. Saute for about 3 minutes. Add in the spices and saute for another minute.

  2. Pour in the can of tomatoes and their juices and the vegetable broth. Increase the heat to high and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and let cook for about 7-8 minutes.

  3. Reduce the heat and add in the cooked farro and beans. Cook for another 3 minutes to heat these items through. Stir in the chard leaves gently. Taste and add salt, pepper, and red pepper flake as desired.

  4. Serve with shaved parmesan, chopped parsley, and even a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

Swiss Chard Frittata

Today is March 14th, so math nerds, rejoice- it's 3.14 or Pi Day! I'm celebrating today, not because I am a math nerd (I actually HATED math as kid), but because it's also a snow day here in NYC and I'm spending the day in the kitchen whipping up some yummy recipes.

While I may not be very fond of math, I am very, very fond of pie. Of the sweet variety, I would have to say some of my favorites are strawberry rhubarb, peach, or blueberry, but I will certainly not turn down a chocolate mousse or peanut butter pie! However, seeing as it's just me and my husband, and we don't feel like scarffing down a whole sweet pie by ourselves (sadly, I don't think it's in the half marathon training meal plan either), I made a savory "pie" today in the form of a Swiss Chard and Leek Frittata.

Never made a frittata before? Read up on these tips from The Kitchn to avoid potential mishaps. But I promise, it's not as hard as you think!

I had picked up some gorgeous swiss chard at the farmers market this weekend and knew that turning it into a fluffy, egg-y pie was the only way to go. Not only does swiss chard look pretty, but the colorful leaves mean they are packed with good nutrition. Swiss chard contains 13 different antioxidants from the polyphenol family; loads of vitamins K,  A, and C; and the important minerals magnesium, and potassium; which, when put together, translates into better blood sugar control, bone health, and decreased inflammation.

What's also great about chard is that the entire plant can be used in your cooking. For this recipe, I was sure to chop up the fibrous stems into a small dice to be sautéed first, and then I cut the leaves into ribbons to be added later. Waste not, want not!

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Swiss Chard and Leek Frittata

Ingredients

  • 7 whole organic eggs

  • 3 cups of swiss chard leaves, cut into ribbons + diced chard stems

  • 1/2 of a leek stalk, sliced

  • goat cheese

  • splash of milk (any kind of your choosing, but cow's milk usually works best here)

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Crack 7 eggs into a bowl and whisk until yolks are broken and eggs are mixed. You'll want to avoid over whisking as this will create a more dense frittata in the oven- we want to keep 'em fluffy! Add just a splash of milk to your beaten eggs.

  2. Prepare the chard by first washing well to remove grit and dirt. Form small groups or bundles of 8-10 leaves to expedite the chopping process. Working with one bundle at a time, chop off the very ends of the stems and compost/discard. Next, separate the bottom stem part from the large leaf section. Chop the stem pieces into a small dice and set aside. Then hold the bundle of leaves together and cut into long ribbon slices. Set chard prep aside.

  3. Slice 1 leek stalk in half length-wise (from top to bottom). Remove tough outer leaf layer and wash to remove dirt. Laying the leek flat-side down, slice the whites into half moon shapes of about 1/4 inch thickness. Discard or compost the green tops and save the remaining leek half for another recipe.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On the stovetop, heat an oven-safe skillet and add olive oil. Add diced chard stems and sliced leeks, sautee until veggies begin to brown and caramelize. At the stage, add salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Then add in chard leaves, cooking until leaves wilt and become soft, about 3-4 minutes. Pour egg mixture into pan, evenly covering the cooked veggies. Without moving or stirring, let mixture cook for 5 minutes over low-medium heat until the edges have set. Before popping in the oven, add some dollops of goat cheese on top- use as little or as much as you like!

  6. Next, move your pan to the oven and cook for 7-9 minutes. To check the doneness of your frittata, shake the pan to test if the center jiggles; if yes, cook for a minute or so more. When the edges of the frittata are golden brown, remove from oven.

  7. Let stand for five minutes, then slice and serve.

This recipe was cooked in an 8 inch cast iron skillet and can be cut into 6 or 8 slices depending on your crowd and preference. I quickly ate a warm slice for breakfast with toast, but plan to keep 2 slices in the fridge for grab and go breakfasts this week and freeze the remaining  slices in a plastic container for the ultimate meal-planning prize.

Happy pie making!