Friday, April 9, 2010

Eff You, Cancer!

I grew up eating fairly well. My father made meals that could have been served in any four star restaurant. No crockpot dinners at our house. Cream of Mushroom soup was never an ingredient. Vegetables were always fresh, never canned. We ate bushels of fresh broccoli, asparagus, and green beans. Brussell sprouts were common. Corn on the cob, not so much. We never ordered pizza for dinner.

So how is it that I never ate this before? And I probably couldn't have told you what this was just a few weeks ago?

Is it a regional thing? Are 'greens' uncommon in the Northeast? We ate our share of spinach, but this was never on the menu. It's a shame. Because it's so pretty. And it actually tastes good too.
In case you're as clueless as I was, this is rainbow Swiss chard.  I cooked it for the first time a few weeks ago. 

Since both of my parents have been attacked by cancer, I figure odds are high that this damn disease is waiting around the corner for me too so I checked out Super Natural Cooking to add some new cancer-busting recipes to my repertoire.

I had read that "if vegetables got grades for traditional nutrients alone, Swiss chard would be one of the vegetable valedictorians." So the first recipe I tried was called GIANT CRUSTY AND CREAMY WHITE BEANS AND GREENS. 

Unfortunately, I could not find the giant Corona beans the recipe called for so instead I substituted white cannellini beans. While it tasted good, these beans didn't hold up well to the pan frying. Instead of the distinct beans you see pictured in the author's photo here...

Mine turned out with more of a hash brown consistency. Definitely not as pretty nor as texturally-appealing on the tongue. 

But it had great flavor, and it was chock full of disease-busting nutrients so I will continue to make this dish. I even bought a packet of Swiss chard seeds to plant in our garden this year. Take that freakin' cancer! I'm not going down without a fight!

Note: If anyone knows where to buy dried Corona beans, I'd love to get my hands on some. I'd rather not have to order them over the interwebs if I can help it.

Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans with Greens
- serves 6 to 8 as a side dish -
Heidi says: "I get more requests for this recipe than any other. The crisp golden crust on the beans encases a rich and creamy center, creating an irresistibly delicious combination. The greens provide a nutritionally packed accent as well as beautiful color. Plan ahead, as you need to soak the beans overnight. You can even cook them a day or two in advance; drain and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. I’ve tried this recipe with canned beans of different varieties, but I always ended up with a mushy pot of bean mash—tasty, but not what we’re after. The freshly cooked dried beans maintain their structure much better during sautéing. Giant corona beans, cellini beans, or white cannellini are the best choice here."
1/2 pound medium or large dried white beans, cooked (see page 204)
3 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil
Fine-grain sea salt
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 or 7 big leaves chard, preferably rainbow chard, leaves cut into wide ribbons and 1 or 2 stems cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
1. Drain the beans, then heat the butter over medium-high heat in the widest skillet you’ve got. Add beans to the hot pan in a single layer. If you don’t have a big-enough skillet, just do the sauté step in two batches or save the extra beans for another use. Stir to coat the beans with butter, then let them sit long enough to brown on one side, about 3 or 4 minutes, before turning to brown the other side, also about 3 or 4 minutes. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.
2. Salt to taste, add the onion and garlic, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the onion softens. Stir in the chard, and cook until just beginning to wilt. Remove from heat, and season to taste with a generous dose of salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit of top-quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan.
Note: For a twist on bruschetta, serve the beans over grilled slices of rustic bread rubbed with a clove of garlic and a fragrant extra-virgin olive oil. For a cold-weather option, omit the onions and garlic and instead stir in deeply caramelized onions when you add the chard.


Lisa and Laura said...

YUM. That actually looks really good (both recipes!) and I've never tried swiss chard either. I'm impressed with your anti-Cancer recipes. Keep 'em coming!

Debbie said...

LOVE Swiss Chard- just starting making/eating it myself. And I remember your Dad's 4-star meals. And those amazing chocolate croissants from Zabar's on the weekends. YUM!
Kick cancer to the curb- I'm with you all the way...

Corey Schwartz said...

Love your attitude, Kim! You tell those damn cancer cells to shove it up their @#$!

Kim said...

Lila- Thanks! More cancer-busters coming.

Debbie- SOOOO happy to see you post here! And I teared up that you remember that about my dad AND the croissants. I walked through Grand Central Station on my way back home this last trip and I stopped in Zabar's to remember all the goodies. I kept thinking about how many times my dad walked through Grand Central all those years commuting to/from work.

Corey- Thanks! Trying to keep the positive attitude.

Erin said...

That looks yummy! I've never had swiss chard before. How did the Ballerina's take to it?