One of the things I fell in love with at the market over the weekend was beautiful beautiful rainbow chard. I am a huge fan of greens, as you’ll probably notice. This chard was young and tender, and the stalks were all beautiful shades of red and yellow and purple. I got about a small plastic grocery bag full. It looks like a lot, but it cooks down to about a plateful. I have no idea what the weight of it at all. I also got some delicious little beets and some goats cheese, and I came up with this salad. Basically, you cook chard like spinach. It’s got a slightly stronger taste, and it’s even better for you. I roughly chop the chard, because it’s a bit chewier than spinach--there’s a bit more bite to it in every way The candied nuts and the balsamic reduction sound finicky, but please don’t skip them! They literally only take a couple of minutes and the result is so special.
I robbed this picture from This Website, which has nifty
nutritional info on the Rainbow Brite of Veg
Warm Rainbow Chard and Goats Cheese Salad
Bag of Chard
5 small slices of goats’ cheese. I cut these off a little “log” of cheese, about 1.5 inches diameter
4 small beets (about golf ball size)
¼ cup nuts (I used the last of the pine nuts, they were amazing like this)
3 tbsp sugar
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 sprig thyme
I also added some roasted, slightly pickled onions I bought at the market. They were nice, but kind of lost in the rest of the salad. I might not bother next time.
First thing, heat the nuts and first sugar in a frying pan over medium high heat. The sugar will start to melt, and brown the nuts. Stir well until the nuts are well coated in melted sugar and start to smell toasty. If the pan smokes at all, just lift it off the burner and keep stirring. This only takes about three minutes, but you MUST stay and stir the whole time, or it WILL burn. Trust me. When they are done, put them aside to cool. You might want to give them a little stir now and then as they dry to keep them all from sticking together.
Now you can indulge in a little more stabby therapy with the beets. Pierce them a few times each, and stick them on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil. Don’t whine about getting pink fingers, it’ll be way worse when it’s time to peel them, so you should try to just get over it now. It’s important not to skip this step, because exploding beets, while they might sound exciting, are really no fun at all. Take it from someone who knows. ANYWAY. Stab them and stick them in the oven at about 190c to roast for about half an hour. You can stab them every so often to check--once the stabbing is easy, they are done. Put them to one side to cool a bit, and turn the oven down to 150c
Dump the shredded chard into a frying pan over medium heat and stir from time to time until well cooked down and bright green.
Place your goats cheese rounds on the baking sheet and grind salt and pepper all over. I also put a little thyme leaf on each one which looked really pretty and gave a nice hint of flavour. Stick them in the oven for about five minutes. They will go a little soft and melty and puff up nicely. I also put the pickled onions in with them to warm them up.
I came up with the balsamic reduction because I had bought some extremely cheap balsamic vinegar and was really disappointed that it was watery and sour. Just this little trick made it pretty much as delicious as the most expensive balsamic glaze I’ve ever had. It was all I could do not to lick the pot.
Put the balsamic, the rest of the sprig of thyme, and the second sugar into a small saucepan over high heat. Stir till sugar is dissolved. Just let it boil and steam, stirring occasionally, until it’s the thickness you like. I wanted mine a bit syrupy, and it only took about five minutes. Take it off the heat--it will continue to thicken as it cools.
Peel the beets quickly--they will still be quite hot, and your fingers will become a lovely pink violet colour and stay that way for quite a while.
To assemble, put the chard on a plate and top with the beets, goats cheese, and onions, if you’re using them. Drizzle artistically but generously with the balsamic and sprinkle with the candied nuts.
It all sounds complicated, but aside from roasting the beets, the rest of the steps only took about ten minutes, and it was one of the prettiest, nicest dinners I’ve ever eaten.
It might have been the only proper cooked dinner I managed all week, but I'm realizing that that's okay too. I am loving myself by cooking and eating beautiful dinners, but I'm also loving myself by giving myself the night off when I need it. And I'm loving myself by not guilt-tripping, yelling at, or cold-shouldering myself when I don't live up to my own expectations. It's working.