Throwing food away has always bothered me, but there are some kitchen scraps that don’t seem to have any use, destined only for the compost bin. Guess what? Chard stems are no longer on that list! For those who don’t particularly enjoy the stringiness of chard stems, pickling is a great way to preserve something seemingly useless, transforming it from waste into a tangy, spicy, delicious side that can stand up next to any dill pickle (or can even be diced up and sautéed with your favorite vegetables to add a burst of flavor). And let’s face it – a jar of pickled rainbow chard stems is just plain beautiful. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it… Sriracha Pickled Rainbow Chard Stems By Holly Rodricks Makes One 16 oz. jar of refrigerator pickles. Ingredients: Stems from 1 bunch of Rainbow Chard cleaned and chopped into long stalks about an inch shorter than the height of a 16 oz. mason jar, standing up. (Can substitute stems from other kinds of chard.) 1/2 small Onion, thinly sliced into rings 1 clove Garlic, peeled and slightly crushed 1/2 cup Distilled White Vinegar 1/2 cup Water 1 tbsp. Honey 1-2 tbsp. Sriracha, depending on heat preference 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. Salt, to taste Optional: 1/2 tsp Celery Seed (Can substitute Dill Seed.) Optional: 1-2 tsp. roughly chopped Cilantro leaves and stems Instructions: In a small saucepan, heat the Vinegar, Water, and Honey until it comes to a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure honey is completely dissolved. In the meantime, placed thinly sliced Onion Rings at bottom of jar, laying flat if possible. Add crushed Garlic, Celery Seed and Cilantro. Then, place Chard stems, standing upright in jar. Once Vinegar mixture is boiling and honey is dissolved, remove from heat. Mix in Sriracha, and immediately pour mixture over all ingredients in jar until liquid covers tops of stalks. (If you have a canning funnel, it will make this step a lot easier. Otherwise, pour carefully!) Place lid on jar immediately. Allow jar to cool to room temperature, 1-2 hours, then store in fridge for at least 1 week before consuming. (Pickles will be good for up to 1 month, and will become more flavorful during that time.)
For many, the hardiness of raw kale is an acquired taste. I never used to enjoy it when I was younger, but then I learned a little trick….if you lightly sauté the greens, wilting them just a little, they keep their crispness but lose that chewy texture, becoming sweet and delectable. Below is an example of a simple kale preparation that hits the spot! Zesty Sautéed Kale By Holly Rodricks Serves 2-3. Ingredients: 1 bunch Red Russian Kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped (Can substitute any hardy green if kale is not available.) 1 small Onion, thinly sliced 1 clove Garlic, minced 1 – 2 tbsp. Oil of choice (For those omnivores out there, bacon grease gives this a really nice, full flavor.) 1 tsp. fresh Lemon Juice or White Vinegar Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste Instructions: Heat up oil in a medium-sized skillet. Sauté Onions until they start to soften and become translucent. Add minced garlic. Sauté for an additional minute, until garlic becomes aromatic. Add chopped Kale. Gently stir every minute or so, to make sure leaves are evenly exposed to heat. Add Salt and Pepper as you go. The aim is to slightly wilt the greens, not to cook them down to nothing. After 2-3 minutes or as soon as they start becoming tender and brightening in color, remove them from the heat. Add the Lemon Juice or White Vinegar, and stir to evenly combine. Serve immediately, alongside your favorite main course.