When I first moved to the San Francisco area about 12 years ago, I encountered many new foods for the first time. Swiss chard was one of those foods. Having grown up in the south, I was very familiar with greens and the southern ways of cooking them, but my 1st bite of chard was bliss. I was addicted from that first bite and had serious cravings for the stuff.

However….I did not know how to prepare it. Should I remove the big rib that runs thru the center? Leave the rib in and just chop it up? I soon learned that with fresh locally grown chard it is hard to go wrong no matter how you cook it.

One of the first meals I ever cooked for Tom was in November (about 10 years ago-wow we are getting old!). It was the 1st day of Dungeness crab season and it was a wednesday and the Marin county farmers market was on at the civic center. I got beautiful crabs, swiss chard & a baguette.

I made the crabs and served them with garlic butter but they were so sweet  we didn’t even need the butter. But in the name of decadence and wooing Tom I made the butter anyway. I also made swiss chard and served vintage champagne. It was the perfect meal. Tom said he never even liked crabs before that meal (too much trouble to deal with). That meal changed his mind and he absolutely raved over the chard. We are married now so I guess it worked.

This is how I like to cook chard:

Buy fresh farmers market chard-do not buy the bagged stuff that is already cut up

Wash it thouroughly

Remove the bottom part of the stem-or the whole stem if you like. I usually don’t bother removing the stem from the top of the leaf.

Dry thoroughly

In a very hot wide and somehwhat deep sauce pan heat olive oil

Slice garlic and just brown in olive oil

Remove garlic chips

Add dried chard in bunches adding more as it wilts

Saute on high until wilted

Add garlic chips back in

Cover and saute until wilted all the way, it will be reduced by about half if not more. It really cooks down

Squeeze a fresh lemon on it

Drain the excess liquid off

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Written by maryjolandry

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