If you have read my profile you may recall that I learned to bake in Canada by reading magazines and that I learned to cook in England by reading books. I started cooking with Margaret Costa’s Four Seasons Cookery Book and Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook. Both taught me to shop and eat in season and I haven’t looked back. I now have a rather large collection of cookbooks which I have amassed over the years, some from joining a book club (a mistake) many from scouring second hand bookshops and others that I have received as gifts. I have many tried, tested and loved recipes from these books which I make over and over again. I also have some newer books from which I haven’t had the chance to make anything. I thought that it would be rather nice to start a regular post to feature recipes which I have cooked from my embarrassingly extensive collection, noting any changes or suggestions along the way and this is the first of the Cook the Books series.
If you have a favourite cookbook or recipe from one, please do drop me a line in the comments box below. It’s always a pleasure to discover new recipes.
The other day, I noticed beautiful bunches of leafy dark green Swiss Chard at my local greengrocers which looked as though they belonged in a vase. Without knowing what I was going to do with them, I snatched up a bunch to bring home. On my way back, I remembered that Ottolenghi had a few recipes for Swiss Chard in his book, Jerusalem and I was pleased to find that I had most of the ingredients in for this particular dish.
I have made this recipe for Swiss Chard with Tahini, Yoghurt and Buttered Pine Nuts three times now and it is absolutely delicious. The balance of sharp from the wine, green from the leaves, creamy, garlicky umami from the tahini with the juicy stems and crunchy pine nuts is simply divine. The last time I made it, I served the chard as a side to roasted salmon fillets which I had doused in a mixture of harissa, cumin seeds and lemon juice. It was the perfect girlie supper for me and my friend who gave me this book at Christmas!
Swiss chard is nature’s own two-for-one bargain. There are the dark green, deeply veined leaves and the crisp, juicy white (or brightly coloured) stalks both of which need slightly different cooking times. They are easy to prepare – you start by filling the sink with water so that they can be easily cleaned of the grit and dirt that may have accumulated on them. Then, trim a little off the ends of the stalks and cut them out to separate them from the leaves. Swish both about in the water and then leave them in the sink for any grit or dirt to settle on the bottom. Then they are ready to be scooped out, sliced and used as needed with the stalks needing a couple of minutes more cooking time. The leaves can also be blanched and stuffed just like cabbage leaves and of course they are excellent in quiches and pies.
Swiss Chard with Tahini, Yoghurt and Buttered Pine Nuts
from Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi
- 1.3 kg Swiss Chard
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil plus extra to serve
- 40 g pine nuts
- 2 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 60ml dry white wine (I used stock the first time but it is much better with the wine reduction)
- sweet paprika to garnish (I forgot this!)
- salt and black pepper
Tahini and Yoghurt Sauce
- 50g light tahini paste
- 50g greek yoghurt (I used 0% fat)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 garlic glove, crushed
- 2 Tbsp water
- Trim 1 cm off the bottom of the stalks and discard. Fill the sink with cold water. Cut out the thick wide central stalks and place these and the green leaves in sink to remove any traces of grit.
- Fill the kettle and put it on to boil.
- Make up the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until the sauce is smooth and semi stiff. Set aside.
- When the water boils, fill deep saucepan with it, cover and set on the hob to come to a boil again.
- Remove the stalks from the sink and slice into 2 cm pieces. Do the same with the green leaves. Keep them in separate piles.
- Place the stems in the boiling water and set the timer for two minutes. Then add the leaves, which you may have to force under the water, for one minute. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Drain and use your hands to squeeze the chard until it is quite dry.
- Heat 2 Tbsp of oil and half the butter in a large frying pan, over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toss in the pan until golden which should take about 2 minutes. They burn quickly so keep an eye on them. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Now add the garlic to the pan and cook for about a minute until golden.
- Carefully pour in the wine – it will spit! Leave it to reduce to about ⅓ which should take a minute or so.
- Add the chard and the rest of the butter and toss to heat through and get coated in the the buttery, garlicky juices for a two or three minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place in a serving bowl, top with a little sauce, the pine nuts and a sprinkle of paprika. Drizzle with a little EVOO and serve with additional sauce in a separate bowl.