My Love Affair with Chard

Last night I made the great mistake of thinking that it would be a good idea to roast garlic to get the smell of the roommates fish out of the house. While the garlic smelled tantalizingly delicious, it slipped my mind that I’m allergic to garlic. There is nothing better to wake up in the morning with a half swollen throat. eek. I guess this is why I keep children’s benedryl stocked in all my houses. Dinner was a bit of a disaster, I decided to make beet linguine with chard and alfredo sauce, but by the time the kitchen was free, I was so tired and scatterbrained that I completely messed up the sauce. In the end it tasted fine, but was much richer than I had intended it to be. Oh well, live and let learn. The beet pasta came out beautifully though, there really is no substitute for home made pasta.

Lately I’ve been on a chard kick, I just can’t get enough of it. I think part of this obsession is that the three days a week I spend at home in Santa Cruz all I do is crave hearty vegetables, and chard seemed to fit the bill for being easy and delicious. Chard has quickly become my go-to vegetable, having been featured in risotto, soup, curry, pasta, quesedillas, and of course, on it’s own.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my bad days at school, I come home exhausted and hungry. So hungry I generally don’t feel like cooking anything that takes more than 30 minutes to make. This past year it’s been hard for me to muster up the desire to cook anything involved for just myself. It’s hard to cook for one, all that prep work and then you’re either saddled with tons of leftovers, or you just spent 3 hours making a super small portion, and have halves of veggies lying around the fridge. But my struggles of solo cooking are almost at an end, I will be graduating soon and could not be happier.

On days when I have no energy to cook, but my body is craving the vegetables, I like to make chard quesedillas. Now, they are super delicious, but inevitably get soggy on the bottom after eating the first piece. I have tired everything to avoid this, and have accepted that if I want to use whole beans and moist chard that there is no way around it. And since those whole bean and chard are what really make this quesedilla pop, I put up with it.

Chard Quesedillas For One

  • 1 Burrito size flour tortilla
  • 1/3 can of Pinto Beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/3 bunch of Chard
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • butter for greasing the pan

Clean the chard and separate the leafy greens from the stems. Cut the stems into 1.5 – 2 inch pieces, and the greens into 1 inch thick slivers ( cut horizontally) , making sure to keep the two separate. In a frying pan on medium heat, heat the oil. Add the shallots and fry until they are just turning translucent. Add the garlic and the chard stems. (If you are using red chard, expect the shallots to start turning pink) Continue frying them until you can easily slice through a stem piece with a wooden spoon (approx 10 minutes) lower the heat and add the chard leaves. Stir them in to cover them in oil, then cover the pan and let fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

About the time I put the chard leaves into the frying pan, I start heating up another, larger, frying pan to cook the quesedilla in. As it’s heating up take a stick of butter and lightly coat the pan. place tortilla in the pan and spread a thin layer of cheese on the entire tortilla. Once the cheese has begun to melt, add the pinto beans to half the tortilla, and then placed the cooked chard on top of the beans. Fold the tortilla over and cook on either side for about 3-5 minutes until the tortilla begins to show brown spots. Remove from heat, cut using a knife ( a pizza cutter will cause more damage than good)


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