Friday, June 17, 2011

Swiss Chard with Baby Onions: Yuppie Alert

Is it me, or is this like some kind of magical, Disney-world style vegetable? I mean look at those colors! You just don't find these kinds of greens in your local grocery store (at least not my grocery store). Or maybe these leaves are from outer space. Maybe when you come from a planet where the greens look and taste as good as these, you eat them morning, noon and night. And that's why aliens are all green and glowy. Stephen Hawking, I hope you're catching this breakthrough. 

You might be wondering how these extraterrestrial greens made their way onto my cutting board. Three letters - A-L-F. Nah, just kidding, the letters are C, S and A. Ours comes from Shallowbrook Farm in Boyce, VA, though I haven't been there and cannot confirm nor deny whether their seed shipments come via UFO. 
CSA stands for community supported agriculture. But you knew that. Because CSAs are all the rage right now, particularly with young, urban professionals. And that's me. So duh, I signed up to have expensive vegetables trucked into downtown DC (near my office), so that I can cart them home on the overcrowded Metro and do everything in my power scarf them down in the 3 days I have until they go bad. Oh, there's wacky vegetables I wouldn't even sneeze on at the grocery store? That's the charming allure of CSA shipments!  

In all seriousness, I'm not down on the CSA - it just involves a learning curve. Our shipments comes on Wednesday and I've learned that unless Travis and I are going to eat two zucchinis and two squash by Friday, I need to slice them up and put them in the freezer. I've learned that CSA veggies are in fact much more delicious than grocery store vegetables, and so they really only need salt, pepper and a little oil if you want to cook them. I've learned that everything needs to go in the fridge. Immediately. Better yet, everything needs to be cut up and ready to eat straight away - that will increase the odds of consumption before they go bad.

I really like supporting farmer Eric of Shallowbrook Farms. He sends out long, informative emails about the weather and crops (I think he's managing expectations). It's like we're already BFFs. And I understand that the reason the veggies go bad so quickly is that they aren't treated with the same chemicals that many commercial farms use to preserve vegetables for cross-country shipping and days or weeks on the store shelf (at least I hope that's why, otherwise Eric's got some explaining to do). So for these reasons, I'm going to keep trying to make this CSA business work.
And then when a rare, amazingly cool item shows up in my CSA box, I forget about any gripes. This Swiss chard was beautiful and SO flavorful. And the tiny onions? I don't even know what they are (they weren't cipollinis, maybe something similar), but they were sweetly delicious and a perfect compliment to a powerful green like Swiss chard.

This recipe is more of an inspirational message than an actual recipe. There's not much to it, and certainly nothing you couldn't come up with on your own. But next time you have some random greens and onions in your fridge - or Swiss chard and baby onions from your own CSA, because you're a yuppie just like me - it's a super tasty serving suggestion.

Swiss Chard with Baby Onions

Serves 2

1 head of Swiss chard, rinsed well and roughly chopped, stalks discarded
4-5 tiny onions (baby Spanish onions or cipollinis will work - NOT pearl onions), quartered
2 tbs. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together so that the leaves and onions are evenly coated in oil, salt and pepper.

Spread mix out on an aluminum foil-lined pan and bake for 10 minutes. Give the mix a stir/flip at the 5 minute mark. Some of the greens will crisp up, but probably not all. It makes for a nice blend of textures.

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