Following are a couple of recipes I mentioned in my talk today at the Ortega Branch of the SF Public Library.
I had never been to chow.com, but was very pleased with the results of this recipe. The creator of the recipe suggests serving it as a side dish with baked salmon or lamb, but I found it to make a very nice main dish for lunch. It transforms and masks the chard, so it is ideal for gardeners with an excess of this crop. My chard is starting to flower now, so this was an end-of-season discovery. I will surely make it again next chard season! The vinegar and feta give it just the right piquance. (Trader Joe's has crumbled nonfat feta if you are watching cholesterol.)
Lentils, Chard, and Feta Cheese Adapted from a recipe posted on chow.com by Amy Wisniewski
2 tablespoons olive oil 12 ounces Swiss chard (about 1 bunch)
1/2 cup small-dice yellow onion 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 cup brown or green lentils 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 cups water 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, season it with salt and pepper, and cook it on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the lentils, and the water. Use high heat to bring just to a boil, then turn to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are just tender and the water has evaporated, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.
3. Meanwhile, cut the stems from the chard leaves, including the thick part of the stem that goes into the leaf blade. Cut the stems into small pieces and put them in a bowl. Stack the leaves, cut them in half lengthwise, then coarsely chop into bite-sized pieces; set aside.
4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large frying or straight-sided pan over medium-high heat . Add the reserved chard stems, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. (Or put them in the microwave first, on high, for 2 minutes, covered with a piece of paper towel, to hasten the process.)
5. Add the chopped chard leaves, measured salt, and measured pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the red wine vinegar and reserved lentil mixture and stir until evenly combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, about 3 minutes.
6. Sprinkle in the feta and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Cream of Tomato Soup (Adapted from a recipe by Cynthia Scheer)
With tomato season coming up, we can always use a way to use the excess. But if your garden is too chilly in summer for a good tomato crop, you will still appreciate this recipe for its use of the cool-prefering crop, carrots. A blended soup is a great way to use up extra produce, and if the carrots have a bit of insect damage, you can cut it away and no one will know. Note that, though the title includes the word "cream", this recipe doesn't contain any dairy products. If you make it with vegetarian broth, it is vegan.
2 lbs. tomatoes (about 4 large) chopped, A half-inch wide 3-inch long strip of lemon peel
or 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes 1/2 teaspoon salt (less if canned tomato product is salted)
or 2 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce 1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 onions (about 1 lb.), chopped 1 quart of water or chicken or vegetarian broth, fresh or canned)
2 large carrots (about 1 lb), sliced 2 tablespoons each of flour and softened butter or margarine
2 tablespoons sugar 1 1/3 cups of milk (whole, nonfat, or even reconstituted nonfat
One bay leaf dry milk are fine)
1. In a 4 to 5-quart pot, combine tomatoes, onions, carrots, sugar, bay leaf, lemon peel, salt, pepper, and water or broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer till vegetables are tender--20-30 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, mix flour and butter or margarine until smooth.
3. Remove the bay leaf and the lemon peel from the soup mixture. Transfer the mixture a third or fourth at a time to a food processor or blender and whirl until smooth. Return to pot over medium heat.
4. Stir a bit of the hot soup into the flour and butter mixture and mix well, then stir this mixture into the soup. Heat, stirring often, until soup boils and thickens.
5. Turn off the heat, and then pour in the milk. Stir to blend well. If soup is not steaming hot, heat gently, stirring occasionally until it is. Do not let it boil again.
You can serve this soup hot, or refrigerate it and serve it as a cold soup.