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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Recipe Report, and More on What to do with Chard

So here's my review of Cod with Swiss Chard and Potatoes, in a nutshell: It was good. It was easy. I'll make it again.

More details, you say? OK, I'll spill, but be forewarned: this will read like one of those reviews I've poked fun at before (if I'm gonna give it, I guess I've gotta take it, too). Here's what happened: as predicted, I didn't use the fennel and basil called for in the original recipe. I didn't end up using the sorrel that I *thought* I would go with, either, because it turns out that that can of fire-roasted tomatoes in my cupboard also had roasted chilies in it. Hot chilies, not the mild green ones. I decided to skip the sauce-reducing step and served the whole thing in bowls...it came out kind of like a spicy fish stew. I should have added some smoked Spanish paprika, but thought of it too late.

I still had a bunch of chard in the fridge, so tonight I decided to try something out. This is very loosely based on a recipe for kimchee stew - not because it has kimchee in it, but because of the general method of preparation. I've mentioned before that I've been searching for a way to cook tofu so that my meat-and-potatoes-loving hubby will eat it. Both of us prefer the texture of firm tofu that's cooked gently in liquid, but if fried tofu is your idea of heaven then by all means, go ahead and fry it before you add the broth in this recipe. I need to write a separate post on anchovy broth, 'cause it's really simple to make and pretty good for you too, but that will have to wait and for now I leave you in suspense.

This came out really, really well. Manly meat-eating hubby even commented that he's starting to really like tofu. The Swiss chard was of the red variety, and it turned the broth a lovely shade of pink - made a very pretty contrast with the white tofu and green chard leaves. And it comes together fast: you can wash the chard during the first 2 steps of cooking, so dinner can be ready in 20 minutes. It's also, I daresay, a Ludicrously Healthy recipe. I'll definitely be making this again and trying out other types of greens as the season progresses.

Braised Tofu with Swiss Chard
Makes about 4 main-dish servings

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small or 1/2 large onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
1-3 cloves of garlic, minced (or pressed)
1 1/2 cups anchovy broth, chicken broth, or water
1 lb (drained weight) firm tofu, sliced into 2x3x1/2" pieces
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
a dash of hot pepper flakes (optional)
1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, stemmed, and leave torn into 2-3" sized pieces
1 scallion, chopped finely
ground pepper and possibly salt (I didn't think it needed any).

1. Heat the olive oil in a large (6-quart or bigger) stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Pour in the anchovy broth and bring it to a simmer. Lay the slices of tofu into the broth, and add the soy sauce, vinegar, and hot pepper flakes, if you're using them. Bring to a simmer and add the Swiss chard.

3. Cover and cook until the chard is wilted and tender, 5-10 minutes, depending on how large your chard leaves are (younger chard cooks faster). You may need to use a pair of tongs to turn the chard over if the pot is very full).

4. Uncover the pot, sprinkle on the chopped scallion and season with pepper (and salt, if you think it needs it). Serve in large bowls with a scoop of hot rice.

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