Swiss chard is finally coming into its own and is now easy to find in a bright array of colors at farmer’s markets and supermarkets. It wasn’t always that way, but I’m glad people have finally discovered the “queen of greens” – a vegetable that takes me back to my childhood.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is to blanch the leaves, stuff them and serve them with either a tomato sauce on top, or gratineed with some parmesan cheese. You can find that recipe here. When I don’t have time to fuss, I just stir fry the leaves in a little olive oil, salt, garlic and crushed red pepper. But whatever way I make it, I always cut the stalks from the leaves and cook them separately. It’s like getting two separate vegetables for the price of one. Most of the time I cook the stalks in some boiling water, then toss them in some butter. I’ll either serve them simply like that, or top them with bread crumbs mixed with parmesan cheese, a little dribble of butter, then put them in the broiler for a few minutes.
As a young girl, I remember my mother cooking up swiss chard stalk fritters in our basement kitchen (yes, we had two kitchens) but never got around to making them myself – until now. I didn’t have her recipe, so I just made it up from what I remembered decades ago. If they weren’t exactly like hers, they were pretty darn close. The memories of all those parties in the basement, complete with my Dad holding court behind the bar he built, came flooding back. It’s amazing how food stirs such memories.
Swiss Chard Stalk Fritters
Start by taking the stalks and chopping them into pieces. I had about 1 1/2 cups of stalks, enough for about 6 swiss chard fritters, each about two to three inches in diameter.
Boil the stalks in water until tender, about 10 minutes, then drain.
Then mix up the following in a bowl:
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt, pepper to taste
chopped parsley, about 1/4 cup
The mixture will be stiff and may seem a bit dry, but once you mix in the stalks, some of the moisture from the stalks will work its way into the mixture. Add the stalks to the bread crumb mixture and press into patties.