Here’s a bright, tasty winter side dish that holds well, even when dressed ahead of time. (Green chard, once cooked, turns brown within a few minutes of being hit with acid. Red chard leaves may too, but in this salad you wouldn’t know it, perhaps because the red of all of the other ingredients overtakes it.) You can easily adapt this recipe to make soup by simmering it in a larger quantity of stock and adding just a splash of vinegar, to taste, before eating. Enjoy!! —AntoniaJames
4 - 6
½ pound small beets, trimmed (reserving and chopping greens)
1 medium onion, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 bay leaves
½ small head of red cabbage, cored and chopped into 1” pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or additional oil)
2 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup of good chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 bunch of red chard
1 large handful of parsley leaves, chopped (measured before chopping)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or mint, or more to taste (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap the beets tightly in a foil packet, then roast the beets in the packet in a shallow baking dish just until tender when pierced with a knife (about 35 – 40 minutes). Allow them to cool, then peel and cut each into 8 pieces. Do this by cutting in half lengthwise (North Pole to South Pole), the cut each of the halves in half lengthwise, then cut each quarter in half crosswise. Or you can cut the beets into smaller dice, if they're large.
Meanwhile, thoroughly wash and coarsely chop the beet greens and set aside. If the stems are thick, cut and chop them separately, as it takes longer for them to cook.
In a large skillet with a cover, sauté the onion over medium heat in one tablespoon of the oil, with the bay leaves and a small pinch of salt, for about two minutes.
Add the chopped cabbage and butter or additional oil and continue to cook, stirring, for another 2 – 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ¼ cup of the stock, stir well, and cover.
Turn the heat down to medium low and cook, covered, for about fifteen minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. (If it feels like the vegetables are drying out, check and add a few tablespoons of water, if they are. Otherwise, don’t remove the lid.)
Remove the hard stems from the chard and cut the stems into ½ inch pieces. Put them in the pan with the onions and cabbage, along with the stems from the beet greens. Stir well, cover and cook for three or four minutes.
Lift the lid, then add the beet greens. (If your beet greens seems a bit tough, add them at the same time that you add the chard and beet stems.)
Coarsely chop the chard leaves and add to the pan with the remaining chicken stock and another small pinch of salt. Stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the diced beets, the dill or mint, if using, and the parsley and stir well. Cook over medium heat, continuing to stir, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the vinegar and toss well to combine.
Allow to sit for at least ½ hour before serving. Immediately before serving, remove the bay leaves, add the lemon juice and zest, and toss to combine. Test for salt, correct if necessary, and add pepper to taste.
Serve at room temperature, or warm, to taste. I usually pass a cruet of vinegar with dishes like this, for those --- like me --who like such dishes a bit sharper.
N.B. It’s even better if you let this sit for 4 to 6 hours before eating.
Also, don't worry if the cabbage, after its initial cooking, looks a bit pale and blue. That just happens when red cabbage meets water. It will brighten right up once it's joined by the beets and red chard. ;o)
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)