Thursday, December 4, 2008

Veggie Might: Swiss Chard with Mushrooms - Let Go; Let Chard

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

I am a quiet kind of control freak: a gal who is easy going about most things, but (perhaps) surprisingly uptight and pedantic about others. My main hang-ups are overextending myself and getting caught up in details. I’m not a big-picture person. I will fuss and worry over one tiny sapling while the entire forest burns down around me.

This Thanksgiving, the roommate (TR) and I hosted our friends/across-the-street-neighbors LB and IB, and my good pal T. The Saturday before, we had planning meeting (yes, I know—it was mostly an excuse to hang out) to decide what everyone was making.

We divided the menu evenly between us, though I would have offered to make the whole meal. Mercifully, TR coughed or droned, “Leigh,” when he felt I was taking on too much. Thank you.

My list included green beans, but I couldn’t decide between full-on family-style green bean casserole or sophisticated haricots verts with slivered almonds and lemon? Did I mention I have a hard time making decisions and save everything to the last minute? I could picture myself putting green beans in the oven at 3 am Thursday morning.

And then something magical happened. I overbought (by 2 lbs) Swiss chard for my company potluck on Monday.

Normally, I would have just cooked up a boatload greens for the gang at work, had more leftovers than I could handle, worried over which green bean recipe to use for Thanksgiving, go back to the store, buy all the stuff for that recipe, and then have still more leftovers because, let’s face it, green beans are not the focus of Thanksgiving.

Deep breath. I served the extra Swiss chard for my Thanksgiving vegetable. It was a decision that saved me money, time, and stress, and as it turned out, thrilled the whole gang. Who knew leafy greens would be such a crowd-pleaser?

I threw in some mushrooms and shallots to give the delicate Swiss chard a little added kick, and I used homemade vegetable stock to make it a little saucy. It was so simple; it didn’t feel like holiday cooking. Wash, chop, sauté, voila. And best of all, no one’s Thanksgiving was ruined because we didn’t have green beans.

Swiss Chard with Mushrooms
Yields about 4 servings

4 cups Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped
1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp shallots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 cup crimini or portabello mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper

1) Wash and remove stems from Swiss chard. Chop into ribbons.

2) Heat oil in a large skillet and add shallots and garlic. Sauté over medium heat for 2–3 minutes.

3) Add Swiss chard to skillet, stirring as you go. Reduce heat to medium low to prevent greens from cooking down too quickly.

4) Drizzle in vegetable broth and toss in mushrooms.

5) Add salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.

6) Remove from heat and serve immediately.

4 cups Swiss chard: 175 calories, .3g fat, $2.09
1/2 tbsp olive oil: 60 calories, 7g fat, $0.04
2 tbsp shallots: 14 calories, 0g fat, $.19
3 cloves garlic: 12.6 calories, 0g fat, $.04
1 cup crimini mushrooms: 19 calories, 0g fat, $.87
1/4 cup vegetable broth: negligible calories and fat, $.04
1 tsp salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1 tsp fresh black pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
TOTALS: 280.6 calories, 7.3g fat, $3.31
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 70 calories, 1.8 g fat, $.83


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