Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Even though I love veggies, I still occasionally come across one I haven’t tried before.  This week at farmer’s market, a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard caught my eye.  I had to buy it.

Rainbow Chard.  Isn't it pretty?

Rainbow Chard. Isn’t it pretty?

I asked the vendor how he normally cooks it and he sheepishly admitted that he’d never actually tried it himself.  What?  So…left to my own devices I went home and dug up some recipes online and hit on one that we all really liked.

I’m usually not a big fan of greens.  I didn’t grow up eating them, so I’ve slowly introduced myself to them.  I like almost all of them raw, and just recently have started cooking them now and then.  While I would not consider chard (or any leafy greens really) to be an entry level vegetable, I really enjoyed this.  While raw, it was quite bitter, but a quick saute mellowed the bite substantially.  The sweetness of the shallot and vinegar and smokiness of the bacon complemented the slight bitterness of the greens, adding up to a tasty dish indeed.   Add a creamy, cheesy polenta for contrast and it was absolutely delicious.  If you’re wondering if the kids will eat it, I can only say that mine both cleaned their plates with a smile on their faces.

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta

Spicy Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Polenta
(from Sunset)

1 cup polenta
1/2 tsp. salt
4 slices thick cut bacon
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large bunches rainbow chard, ribs cut into 1/2 inch sections and leaves roughly chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Cook polenta with salt as package directs.  Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels.

Discard bacon fat and heat olive oil in the same pan. Cook shallots, garlic and chard ribs until softened, about 4 minutes.  Stir in chard leaves, chile flakes and 1/3 cup water.  Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until wilted, 2-3 minutes.

Stir butter and cheese into polenta and spoon into bowls.  Toss chard with vinegar and spoon over polenta.  Crumble bacon and sprinkle on top.  Serves 4.

Note:  This meal can easily be made vegetarian by simply eliminating the bacon.

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