April 30th, 2014
I’ve been on the search for kid-friendy ways to serve spinach and other soft leafy greens like swiss chard. My favorite way to eat them is simply sautéed with garlic, but there’s something about the purity of that preparation that doesn’t fly with my little one. Too much green in too big a pile with nothing to distract him. Even though he prefers most of his veggies (and everything else) “plain,” I had a feeling I needed to juzz these greens up to make them something he might taste. Maybe. If I was lucky.
When I came across a recipe for swiss chard with tahini, yogurt and buttered pine nuts in one of my favorite cookbooks, Jerusalem, I had a feeling there was something in it for us. I thought that the addition of tahini might be too much out of the gate, but the idea of a yogurt sauce and buttered pine nuts seemed worth trying.
And worth trying they were.
Before I get into the details, I should tell you that my little one did not eat all of his swiss chard. That said, he did try it and that’s progress. I’ll take it. Plus, this dish turned out delicious for the rest of the family, so it’s definitely staying on the meal plan roster.
If you have the Jerusalem cookbook, which you should, you can follow the recipe as is. Or you can follow my version which was adapted for convenience and also to phase in the idea of turning yogurt, one of the little one’s favorite foods, into a savory sauce. I didn’t think it would fly to drop that one on him suddenly.
I started by making another recipe from Jerusalem, a pasta with yogurt, peas and chile. The pasta calls for a sauce made by blending yogurt, olive oil, garlic and thawed frozen peas in a food processor. I served it on Thursday night and used the leftover sauce for the swiss chard on Sunday night.
Doing it this way, as opposed to following the two separate recipes in the book, cut down on my cooking time and allowed me to introduce the idea of yogurt sauce with pasta, his favorite. So when he looked at the greens and said, “Yuck,” I explained that it was the same sauce he’d gobbled up just nights before. Though it didn’t make a massive difference, it got him to try the greens and I’ll take what I can get.
As for the rest of us, as I said, we loved these greens. Garlic and creamy, fresh and buttery with a little crunch from the pine nuts. It doesn’t get better, and I can’t wait to make this again.
Swiss Chard with Yogurt Sauce & Buttered Pine Nuts
Adapted from Jerusalem
(Can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
1/2 clove of garlic, crushed, plus 2 small cloves very thinly sliced
1/4 cup thawed frozen peas
2 1/2 lbs fresh swiss chard, washed, stems removed and chopped into 3/4″ wide slices
2 tablespoons butter, divided
5 tablespoons raw pine nuts
1/4 cup dry white wine, you can substitute chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
1. Add the yogurt, 3 tablespoons oil, garlic clove, and peas to the bowl of a food processor and puree until a smooth, pale green sauce forms. Set aside.
2. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add the swiss chard and cook for a minute, until they are bright green. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Allow the water to drain and then use your hands to squeeze out the rest of the water, until the chard is very dry.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan placed over medium heat. Once hot, add the pine nuts and toss them in the pan until golden, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan, then throw in the garlic. Cook for about a minute until it starts to turn golden brown. Very carefully pour in the wine or broth. Allow the liquid to cook for about a minute, until it reduces to about one-third the amount.
4. Add the chard and the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan and toss to coat the greens; cook for 2-3 minutes, until the greens are warmed through. Season with salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasoning.
5. Divide greens into individual servings or plate on a large platter. Spoon yogurt sauce over the top and sprinkle with pine nuts. Drizzle with extra olive oil, if you like.
*Note: This is a delicious dish to share with little ones as young as 6-months-old. Simply puree or pulse into an appropriate texture. You can include as much—or as little—of the yogurt sauce and pine nuts as you like!