We have a hearty bean and green stew for you this Meatless Monday, as well as swiss chard and beet greens growing, storage and preparation tips from our Vermont Fresh: A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook.
Kim Wittorff, a volunteer cooking, tasting and testing recipes out of the Vermont Fresh Handbook worked on this one. Her comments are below the recipe in italics.
Meatless Monday Recipe: Bean and Hearty Green Stew
(adapted from Deb Perelman: smittenkitchen.com)
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard or beet greens
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 15-ounce cans white beans
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 15-ounce can tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Pour a few inches of water into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Separate the ribs of the chard from the leafy portion; chop into 1-inch chunks. Cook chunks in boiling water for 3 minutes, then add leaves and cook one minute longer.
- Drain off water, squeeze out excess moisture, and roughly chop the whole mess. Set aside.
- Return saucepan to the stove, wipe it out, and add the oil. Heat over medium, then add carrot, celery, and onion. Sauté for about 12 minutes.
- Turn down heat, add garlic and sauté a few minutes longer, until garlic is golden brown.
- Stand back and add the vinegar—careful, it will steam and may splatter. Cook 5 minutes longer.
- Add the beans, broth, tomato puree, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the chard and cook 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot. Try garnishing with homemade croutons, chopped herbs, grated cheese, or sour cream.
Note: for a tasty variation, try cooking some sweet Italian sausage, chopping it, and adding it to the mix!
Notes from Kim:
- swiss chard $2.50
- white beans $3
- broth $2.50
- tomato puree $1.50 (could only find larger can)
- celery $2
- olive oil, carrot, onion, garlic, cider vinegar, salt/pepper, romano all were on hand. Say, another $1.5 for the portions used.
- Total cost is $13, which is $2.60 per serving
Time: 1 1/2 hours working alone. The last 25 minutes were waiting on the stew to stew.
Servings: 5, could be stretched to 6 if add bread
This is a great stew which I plan to add to my regular menu. Easy enough to make and tasty, even for a dedicated meat-eater like me. I used swiss chard and the ribs added a really nice crunch. We had it with bread to compliment, but it stands fine on its own. Topped with romano cheese.
I steamed the chard instead of boiling to maintain the plant’s nutrients. Cut everything before adding to the steamer. This also saves you from having to squeeze and chop hot chard. I steamed the ribs first, then removed them and steamed the greens.
Turning down the heat as stated in step #5 doesn’t make sense if you want to sauté the garlic. I followed the direction, but never got my garlic to brown. However, I also didn’t have any issue with the vinegar steaming or splattering as stated in step #6.
Although its name suggests otherwise, Swiss chard is native to the Mediterranean region. It is an extremely close relatively of the beet, as you might have guessed if you have ever looked at the two side-by-side. Chard is actually a type of beet that has been extensively bred for leaf production. Although the leafy portions of both plants have much in common, Swiss chard does not have a bulbous, nutritious root like the beet. Different varieties of chard produce different colored stems; while white-stemmed chard is probably still the most common, vibrant red and gold varieties are gaining popularity as well. Both the stems and the leaves of chard are edible. Swiss chard and beet greens can be interchanged in many recipes. A very hardy plant, chard can thrive under adverse conditions and will usually keep growing even if neglected, making it a great choice for a beginning (or very busy) vegetable gardener.
Chard needs growing conditions much like that of the beet, preferring well-drained soils and cooler temperatures. Chard is best in the spring and fall, though it will continue growing through the summer months as well. Seeds can be directly sown into the garden in mid-spring or started indoors about a month before the last frost date and then planting outdoors. Transplants will result in a slightly earlier harvest. If transplanting, leave about 8 inches between plants, and if direct seeding, be sure to thin out seedlings for a similar spacing. Plants can be cut whole for baby leaf chard. For full-sized leaves, pluck off individually (starting with the bottom leaves) close to the central stem. This way, plants will continue to grow for many months. For tender greens, avoid letting leaves get too large. Chard is frost tolerant but should be harvested before successive freezing days.
Both Swiss chard and beet greens will store in the refrigerator for several days if loosely wrapped in plastic. Like almost all vegetables, however, they are best when eaten as soon as possible after harvest. Store unwashed as excess moisture can cause premature rotting. If you wish, cut off the stems and store separately to optimize space.
These wrinkly greens are very healthy, containing lots of folate, magnesium, potassium, iron, and Vitamins A, K, and C. Packed with fiber and low in calories, chard and beet greens can contribute to a healthy digestive system. Chard and beet greens also have more protein than many other greens.
Be sure to wash chard and beet greens thoroughly before using; their wrinkles capture dirt easily. Both leafy greens are edible raw as well as cooked. Raw, they are often sliced thinly and tossed into salads. Cooked, they work their way into quiches, casseroles, soups, sautés, and stir-fries. Avoid overcooking chard and beet greens to preserve their nutritional integrity. Stems take slightly longer to cook than the leaves and their ribs.
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