Tag Archives: chili

Recipe: Sautéed Baby Red Swiss Chard (Bietina)

10 Mar

You’ve vowed to eat more leafy greens, and you’re doing a great job adding more collard, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and other leafy greens to your diet. In Italy, where I live, those other greens would also include borage, broccoli rabe, chicory, escarole, watercress, and wild greens. But as you munch your way through one high-fiber, high-mineral, high-vitamin leafy green after another, there comes a day when you realize that, much as you love them all, one sautéed leafy green looks much like another. You have fallen into a green rut. That’s when Swiss Chard comes to the rescue. With Swiss Chard, you can have your leafy greens and ruby-red stems, too (if you get the right kind; chard stems can be white, yellow, or red).

Swiss Chard, or bietina/bietola in Italian, is widely eaten in Italy and around the Mediterranean. Why, you may ask, is it called Swiss Chard? No one knows. It’s not Swiss. But the plant may have first been described by a Swiss botanist, so that could be the answer–though it’s possible a German botanist actually did the describing first. It is one of those common plant-name oddities, like Jerusalem Artichoke.

This recipe uses tender, baby red Swiss Chard. If the chard you have is bigger/older, you may need to cut the leaves off the stalks, and add the chopped stalks to the skillet first, to give them more cooking time.

Recipe: Sautéed Baby Red Swiss Chard
2-3 servings

1 1/2 lb. (3/4 kg.) baby red Swiss Chard
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
chili flakes/crushed red pepper
salt and pepper


1. Trim the stalks by cutting them off the root end of the bunch of chard. Most stalks should be thin and tender. With larger stalks, take a knife and carefully remove the stringy part by peeling down the center of the stalk.

2. Wash the greens in plenty of cold water, swishing and swirling to remove any dirt or grit. Drain in a colander.

3. Drizzle some olive oil around the bottom of a heavy skillet; add the garlic, chili, and salt; grind some pepper over; and cook the garlic and chili over medium-high heat for about a minute. Add the chard, stirring occasionally to make that sure none of the leaves get stuck to the bottom of the skillet, and that all leaves get cooked. As with all greens, what looks like a huge amount will soon cook down to a fraction of its former volume. If the pan seems too dry, add a bit more olive oil.

4. Check the seasonings, and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Recipe: Marinated Feta

14 Feb

A jar of marinated feta in the fridge will more than earn its place there, especially since it takes 10 minutes–at most–to prepare it. That doesn’t count marinating time, but once you’ve introduced all the ingredients to each other, you can step back and let the magic happen on its own. Marinated feta is good with bread and crackers, in sandwiches and salads (including pasta salads), and as that little something extra in many other dishes. And the leftover olive oil is fantastic in a Greek salad dressing or tossed with vegetables prior to roasting. Amazing to think that a mere 10 minutes of matchmaking leads to so many happy returns.

Marinated Feta

12 oz. feta
4 oz. sun-dried tomato halves, in oil
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. chili flakes (can add more if you like extra heat)
freshly ground black pepper
3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
extra-virgin olive oil

1. If the feta is wet, pat it dry. Cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. Cut each sun-dried tomato half into four pieces.
2. Transfer half of the feta and half the sun-dried tomato pieces to a canning jar or glass bowl with a tight-fitting lid. Sprinkle the feta and tomatoes with half of the oregano, coriander seeds, chili flakes, and ample black pepper. If using a canning jar, place the rosemary sprigs upright around the edges of the jar; otherwise, scatter them about. Add the remaining feta and tomatoes and sprinkle with the remaining spices. Pour the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes over top, then add enough extra olive oil to cover the feta.
3. Tightly cover/seal the jar or bowl, and refrigerate the feta for at least a couple days (and ideally, for one week) to let the flavors marry–if you can wait that long. The olive oil will solidify, which is normal — it will return to liquid form at room temperature (allow the feta to reach room temperature before serving).


Recipe: Easy Weeknight Chili

27 Mar

The snow from a few days ago is now gone, but spring is taking its time getting here. The blustery weather means warm and comforting soups and stews are still on the menu, but I don’t usually get home from work until after 6 pm, so I need quick and easy options like this chili. I make other versions that require more ingredients, more prep time, and more cooking time and though they are well worth the effort, this is my go-to chili for busy weeknights. If you have ground beef or turkey on hand, and canned tomatoes and beans in your cupboards, then you are good to go. We like to top this chili with diced onions, shredded cheese, and crushed tortilla chips. It also goes very nicely with cornbread, which can be made while the various parts of the chili are cooking.

Easy Weeknight Chili
Serves 6

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1.25 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 large onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes with jalapeno (or use plain diced tomatoes and add a 4-oz. can of diced green chilies)
1 (14.5-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15.5-oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained (but reserve liquid in case it is needed)
1 (15.5-oz.) can light red kidney beans, drained
pinch sugar
salt and pepper to taste


1. Cook the ground beef or turkey in 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot until no longer pink; remove from pot, drain if needed, and set aside.
2. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil to the pot and cook the onion in the oil until it is translucent and beginning to turn golden at the edges. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes, the reserved ground beef or turkey, and the beans; stir to combine. Add a pinch of sugar, then salt and pepper to taste.
4. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring periodically. If the chili seems too thick, add some of the reserved bean liquid. Adjust seasonings as needed.
5. Serve with the accompaniments mentioned above, and perhaps a green salad and fruit.