A friend inspired this dish by telling me she had made a similar salad with her CSA haul earlier in the week. We needed to fortify our supper offerings over the weekend with more complete proteins and slow-burning carbohydrates (there were many rounds of golf to be played) and something like this salad seemed just the thing. And it was: the perfect partner to poached chicken, pan-roasted pork chops, and all by itself. The market is currently full of greens that would fit the bill for this salad. You could blanch beet greens, kale, or spinach as indicated for chard below and the result would be a marvelous salad. I have to take an extra-large sack with me to the farmers’ market on Saturdays because even one of the giant bunches of kale or chard I collect while I’m there will fit in a normal tote bag.
Most of my recipes involving chard will use the ribs. In this one, since the chard is barely wilted, I knew the stems would be too crunchy. But I urge you to take my note below seriously. Use them for another purpose! At the very least throw them into your next pot of bones or scraps to make broth. Or do something more exciting. For example, I have been dying to make Lulu Peyraud’s salt cod and chard stem gratin. Or if you were willing to take a few extra minutes, you could chop the stems separately and add them to boiling, salted water for about 5 to 7 minutes, until they’re tender. They would make a delightful addition to the salad. In any case, try making something with them—they’re flavorful and wonderful.
Let me say that you could easily slice radishes in here, or avocado, or roasted beets (which make poor neighbors in salads, turning everything fuchsia), or serve it with hard-boiled eggs, or poached eggs, or goat cheese. Or any crumbly cheese. Instead of quinoa, you could try this with cooked lentils, or bulgar, or cooked spelt grains, farro, brown rice or wheat berries. These heartier options would probably require a more orthodox stance on dressing. (The way I put this together, with such a light grain as quinoa, didn’t really require any dressing besides the olive oil still clinging to the leaves of the Swiss chard, and the hint of vinegar from the raisins.) Variations on this salad theme—beans plus grains plus vegetables—are a summer staple. Make a double batch of this to last through the week. It’s a true chameleon at the dinner table, and a wonderful partner in the kitchen.
Chard, bean + quinoa salad w pickled golden raisins
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard, roughly chopped, stems removed for another purpose
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup red quinoa (or black or white if that is what you have)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups drained, cooked beans (I used cannellini)
- salt, to taste
1. In a small bowl, toss together raisins and vinegar and set aside. As you prepare the rest of the dish, stir and toss the raisins in the vinegar periodically.
2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add Swiss chard and toss until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add minced garlic and crushed red pepper. Continue to cook only until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and drain and cool the mixture in a colander until it is cool enough to handle.
3. Meanwhile, rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until very well rinsed. Add to a sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until quinoa is done. This takes approximately 10 minutes. (Carefully taste quinoa to ensure it’s done.) Drain cooked quinoa in the fine mesh strainer.
4. Squeeze all the liquid you can from the drained chard. Remove to a cutting board and chop into a chiffonade. Drain any remaining vinegar from the raisins in the bowl. In a large bowl, combine the cooked chard mixture, the drained, cooked beans, the drained, pickled raisins, and the drained quinoa. Mix vigorously with a spatula; taste for salt and add more if necessary. If the salad is dry for your taste, add a drizzle of olive oil. Serve at room temperature.