Spending our summers in Italy has given me a greater appreciation for locally produced fresh vegetables and the variety of delicious recipes that can be made using simple, flavourful ingredients.
My in-law’s are truly inspiring. They take pride in their garden and work hard to maintain it in order to be able to enjoy fresh, organic produce on a daily basis…and prepare healthy recipes, like this one:
One of the vegetables they plant every year is Swiss chard. Did you know that research has shown that this leafy green contains at least 13 different antioxidants and is one of the most nutritious around, ranking it second only to spinach?!
(On that note, it never ceases to amaze me that the entire world still hasn’t jumped on board the ‘grow-your-own-produce’ bandwagon!)
My in-laws get it, but then again they were raised with that (in my opinion, brilliant) mentality. I feel blessed that I can share their ideals with my children over the course of the summers we spend there. My mother-in-law is a master at inventing a variety of recipes with the veggies grown in their garden. She often makes this side dish for us and I love it…yet I never remember to make it throughout when we’re back home.
Although I cannot take credit for this particular recipe, I CAN take credit for how delicious my version turned out!
Note: This can easily be prepared for baby by simply blending the Swiss chard in a food processor until you get the desired consistency.
(Serves 4 as a side dish)
2-3 garlic cloves finely chopped (or halved then removed before serving)
2 cups of canned diced or crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup – 1 cup distilled water
about 5 cups uncooked Swiss chard
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp. sugar (optional)
Rinse the Swiss chard thoroughly or soak in a 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water solution for about 5 minutes then rinse thoroughly. Remove the base of the stem (about the last 1/4 of it) then roughly chop the leaves.
Finely chop the garlic cloves. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-low heat for about 1 minute. Add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes or until lightly golden.
Add the tomatoes and water and season with oregano. Continue to cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes reduce and thicken.
Add the Swiss chard and stir to coat.
Continue to cook (covered) for 15- 20 minutes or until the Swiss chard is fork tender.
*TIP: If the sauce thickens too quickly, continue adding water (about 1/4 cup at a time) until the Swiss chard is tender.
Once the Swiss chard is cooked, add the Parmesan and stir into the sauce.
Add another generous sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Serve warm alone or over rice, couscous, or quinoa.