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May 25, 2010

Top Ten Ways to Solve 'The Locavore's Dilemma'

Swiss chard juiceWe're entering prime time for locavores, as more Maryland crops come to market. For people who buy shares in Community Supported Agriculture ventures, it won't be long before the weekly produce pick-ups begin.

And as anyone who's ever belonged to a CSA knows, it's not all strawberries and sweet corn.

There are lots and lots of greens.

Slate had a good name for the situation, described in a funny first-person account of a CSA sufferer last year: "The Locavore's Dilemma."

Which brings me to this week's list:

Top Ten Ways to Solve the Locavore's Dilemma

1. Swiss chard juice

The topic of Swiss chard overabundance somehow came up the other day when I was chatting with Michael Evitts, spokesman for Baltimore's Downtown Partnership. His answer: Swiss chard juice. He combines a bunch of chard with some carrots, apple, lemon zest and a little fresh ginger. "Tastes like someone’s just mowed a lawn, only sweeter, which is actually nice," Evitts assured me. "To me, it tastes like summer."

I tried to give it a go, but we were out of carrots and lemon. The chard-Gala-ginger combo I was left with had surprisingly cinnamon-y flavor to me. I drank it watered down with seltzer. My husband's take was more like Evitts', though not in a good way. He said it was like "licking a lawn mower." 

2. Crispy roasted kale

3. Chard with Parmesan and butter

OK, maybe the cheese and butter negate some of the health benefits of the greens, but everything in moderation, right? In "The Art of Simple Food," Alice Waters suggests washing and blanching a bunch of chard in salted water, draining and chopping it, then tossing it back into a heavy pan with 3 tablespoons of butter and a handful of freshly grated Parm. So good, you'll forget it's a vegetable.  

4. Chard with pancetta, Parmesan and butter

Add pancetta to the dish above. It will still be good for you. I think.

5. No data returned

6. The redemption dish

Skip the Parm, butter and pancetta. Saute greens in only the tiniest bit of olive oil. Eat a whole bowl and feel virtuous. Then treat yourself to a bowl of ice cream.

7. The next hemp

Another Evitts suggestion: fibrous chard stems could be used to make a chic eco-fabric.  

8. Spinach substitute

Chard doesn't bolt like spinach when the weather turns warmer, one reason it keeps coming in those CSA boxes. When the spinach quits, the chard leaves can be used like spinach in quiche or lasagna.

9. Salad

10. Compost

Throwing the stuff away? Unthinkable! Tuck it in the "crisper," let it rot, and then add it to the compost pile in good conscience.

Photo by math-hubby

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:22 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


Where's number 5?

Oh, my! I guess I was tired last night when I put that list together. I need a suggestion quick before I take the kids to school. Help! LV

We can always count on hmpstd.

Dahlink, I just want to be sure that I'm not missing anything before going directly to number 10. (I will admit that the last sentence of number 6 is a very good suggestion, indeed.)

Some kind of soup for #5?

I actually like, "no data returned."

Seems appropriate, in a wildy inappropriate way!

How about, "no chard returned?"

And having just joined a CSA...i guess I have a lot of chard to look forward to!

for the record, i was kinda kidding about #7. but if you cook it poorly, i swear there are come kinds of kale that could double for sack cloth.

Years ago, a good friend served a Chard Clafouti. Strangely, drew a blank when I combined "chard" and "clafouti" in a search....

For #5:
Toss the greens into mac & cheese. Or sautee kale or spinach with onions and black beans and get creative with flavors - I like to do balsamic vinegar, chipotle, chili powder, and a bit of maple syrup - hot and sweet.

#5 Decorative photo garnish for scrapple

or, as my daughter suggested, "Daddy, what about Fuzzy?" Fuzzy is the hamster, Fuzzy wuzzn't a bear. Fuzzy duzzn't like Swiss chard, duzz he?

Spices, spices, and more spices- heavy on the garlic (powdered AND fresh) and pepper (black AND cayenne). Don't forget salt- I often use Jane's Krazy Mixed-up Salt as a shortcut. You can also experiment with cumin, curry, paprika, dry mustard, etc. They stand up well to savory.

Then boil for a few hours. Throw in a little smoked or fatty meat of some sort for flavor if you wish (andouille works well too). Best thing? They freeze. Fill up a gallon freezer bag & save for the winter months. I think they're actually better when reheated.

1 Swiss Chard juice plus a dash of Jager, 1/2 oz green Creme' de Menthe and 2 oz of vodka. I present "Summer Afternoon"

Sounds more like Summer's Eve

I do not understand how anyone can have too much chard or kale, personally. I could eat it just about every day and often do.

Here are some cures for your leafy-greens blues.

"Secret ingredient" greens: saute greens in olive oil, with some garlic. As they get close to done, add several good-quality anchovy filets, which will disintegrate and leave behind only the most haunting nutty saltiness, and finish with a little bit of crushed dried red pepper and perhaps a splash of good vinegar. No one will know there are anchovies involved, everyone will enjoy the flavor.

The most addictive, and simple, kale dish ever: Lemon Sesame Kale, recipe at my blog here:

Pazi dolmasi -- like stuffed grape leaves, but using large chard leaves, and with a Turkish filling of lamb and rice with onions, garlic, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, and dried fruit. Fantastic.

Baby chard is a fantastic salad vegetable. Toss several handfuls into a bowl and top with a fried egg, as detailed in my blog here:


Cut it into ribbons and simmer in a little stock doctored with lemon juice and garlic. Add to just about any curry - my fave is curried chickpeas and potatoes with greens. Or saute in bacon grease (yeah, yeah, I know, but it gets the green stuff into me!) Or, blanch and freeze for when I'll appreciate it.

I find that at our house we mostly do what you describe in the very last sentence.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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