On Thursday, my husband finished his first year of business school. This meant several days of celebrating…parties, Thai food at a fabulous neighborhood restaurant, a trip to the wonderful winery Jessup Cellars, and delicious Greek food at the Oakland Greek Festival. Yes, we really did all this in three days. So, when Sunday night came, I was tired, full, and ready to embrace nutrition once again.
We had some chard from our last CSA box, so I made this salad from the July 2004 issue of Food & Wine. This is a fantastic way to prepare chard. You can serve it warm or cold, and the yogurt-tahini dressing is delicious. I think next time, I may add a can of chickpeas to it to make it a nice vegetarian main course.
Swiss Chard Salad with Garlicky Yogurt
1 medium red bell pepper
2 pounds Swiss chard, leaves only, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup tahini, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
I changed a few things. First, I used jarred roasted red peppers from Trader Joes. Their peppers are both yellow and red, which made the salad extra colorful. I used Greek yogurt instead of regular plain, and I only used about half the recommended tahini because it just seemed like a lot. My suggestion would be to add the tahini in slowly, one tablespoon at a time, until you get the flavor you want.
Finally, instead of red pepper, I used Aleppo pepper. While in Napa on Saturday, we swung by Oxbow Market and I bought some at the spice counter there and I was itching to try it out. Aleppo pepper is essentially sun-dried peppers from Syria, ground up into tiny flakes.
It’s got a wonderful, spicy, smoky taste. To approximate the flavor, you can mix 3 parts smoked paprika with 1 part cumin, though you won’t get the interesting, oily texture of the dried peppers. If you add a bit of water to it, the peppers reconstitute somewhat and make a thin paste.
If you aren’t using jarred peppers, roast the red bell pepper directly over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler, turning as needed, until charred all over. Transfer the pepper to a bowl, cover and let steam for 10 minutes. Peel and seed the pepper, then cut it into 1/4-inch dice.
Put the Swiss chard in a large colander set in the sink. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over the chard and toss it through the chard, rubbing it in. Let stand for 1 minute, then rinse the chard, and squeeze dry.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add 2 of the minced garlic cloves and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Swiss chard and cook, stirring, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the roasted red pepper and cook for 1 minute. If you want to serve cold, transfer the vegetables to a platter and spread them in an even layer until they cool. Otherwise, serve them up right out of the pan.
In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt with the tahini, lemon juice, and the remaining 3 minced garlic cloves. Season with salt. Spoon the yogurt sauce over the Swiss chard.
If you are using the pepper flakes, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat until the pepper begins to sizzle, about 10 seconds. Pour the pepper oil over the yogurt sauce. If you have Aleppo pepper, mix one teaspoon of the pepper with two teaspoons of water. Let it sit for a few minutes, then spoon it over the yogurt sauce.
I didn’t have any parsley, but if you do, sprinkle some on just before serving.
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