Sunday, June 22, 2008

Swiss Chard with Beets, Goat Cheese, and Raisins

This is the first summer in many years we haven't joined a CSA. We've tried a couple different ones, but haven't found the right fit, so this season we decided to just shop at farmers' markets instead. When I go to a farmers' market, though, I mostly see vegetables I don't know how to cook, and tend not to buy much. I decided that this year, I need to see the market like a CSA share, where you just get what's there and then you figure out how to cook it.

I hadn't yet determined when I was going to fit farmers' market shopping into my summer schedule, but ended up making plans with fellow blogger Lee to go to Drumlin Farm with the kids. They have a farm stand right by the entrance, so I got to do my vegetable shopping and have a fun outing with the kids all at once. Being early in the season, there wasn't much there, but I left with two bunches of swiss chard, a bunch of beets, scallions, and basil.

I poked around a few cookbooks looking for a good recipe, but couldn't find many main dishes that involved swiss chard. Next, I turned to Google, and after searching for swiss chard and beets found this recipe for Swiss Chard with Beets, Goat Cheese, and Raisins.

Even though the ingredient list was simple, I was intimidated at first by all the steps involved, but it turned out to be fairly easy to cook. It was definitely time-consuming, since roasting the beets took an hour, but most of the time was spent waiting, and it was an easy recipe to start and stop while dealing with the continuous needs of young children.  It can also be served either cold or at room temperature, so it could easily be prepared ahead of time.

I'll admit that I didn't have very high hopes for this recipe. The first thing I started cooking in the pot were the chopped up stalks of chard, and it just didn't look very appetizing. It didn't necessarily look any more attractive as I added in the other ingredients. By the end, though, when I had topped it with the beets, goat cheese, and pine nuts, it looked a lot better, though I was still doubtful about how good it would taste.

The recipe didn't mention serving it with anything, but I thought it needed some starch to go with it, so I made a pot of quinoa and we also had a loaf of bread. The meal seemed to have minimal protein, so I added more pine nuts than the recipe suggested to boost that a bit.

My kids aren't too picky, but my oldest (age 3.5) will often reject entire meals if he doesn't like one ingredient, so I try to make minor accommodations when I'm serving a one-pot kind of meal. I gave the kids each two plates. One had the food we were eating, and the other had a selection of the ingredients separated: raisins, beets, goat cheese, and pine nuts.

The results were surprisingly good. My husband's first reaction, sounding very much like my preschooler, was that there were too many different things in it, but after a few bites he changed his mind and decided he really liked it. The dish was surprising sweet, probably because of the raisins, and the goat cheese added creaminess while the pine nuts added some crunch. The kids barely touched the plates of mixed food, but ate a good amount from their separated plates, although neither was very fond of the beets.

I definitely plan to make this recipe again, but would make a few changes. I felt like the beets didn't add too much to the final meal, so I'd probably leave that out next time. They were a pain to prepare since after they were roasted, I had to wait for them to cool and then peel and chop them, which was all very messy. I would probably also prepare a simple protein side dish, since I feel like the meal was weak on protein. Overall, though, it was a success and a great start to our summer of cooking with local vegetables.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Hey Katie, this is great! Thanks for getting up recipe #1!