This is a recipe the world desperately needs. We all know that the more green leafy vegetables we can stuff down our throats the better. Kale, collard greens, dandelion, chard—They have vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and, by the way, flavor. Prepared well, they taste like spring and earth and health.
Over Sukkot I’ve been taking advantage of all the Tuscan kale and chard in the markets. I like rainbow chard, which looks like candy and tastes like… chard.
The problem with most chard dishes is you use just the leaves. You blanch them, chop them, saute them. There’s a lot of recipes for chard leaves: stuffed chard, stir-fried chard, chard salad. These recipes always come with some variation on this instruction: “Separate leaves from ribs. Reserve ribs for another use.”
The problem is that “other use” never comes. Some recipes unhelpfully suggest using them in vegetable stock, to which I say (cue sarcasm): YUM! Chard rib stock. Sign me up. Otherwise, cookbooks are clueless about what you can do with your stockpile of chard ribs.
My solution to the eternal excess chard rib dilemma came when I was making stuffed chard leaves. For that you really have to cut out the thicker, tougher white rib, or else you can’t roll the leaves around the stuffing. I had some water boiling to blanch the leaves.
But before I did that, I took my pile of chard ribs, plunged them in hot water a minute, then immediately poured some rice wine vinegar over them and sprinkled in some sugar and salt. I refrigerated them until they were chilled, and when they emerged, I had chard rib pickles.
These became a standard pre-dinner nosh in our house. People eat them like chips. You can add chili oil, fresh or preserved lemon, fresh ginger, powdered sumac—anything you want to flavor them. But I think they do best with just the plain pickling solution. They keep in the fridge for a couple weeks.
Remember, if you make chard rib pickles, reserve leaves for another use.
Foodaism’s Chard Rib Pickles
Cut chard ribs into equal lengths.
Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes.
Remove and place in bowl.
Cover with a mixture of rice wine vinegar, salt, and sugar. (About one teaspoon sugar and ½ t. salt for every cup of vinegar, but let taste be a better guide). Let cool, then cover and refrigerate. Within a few hours, they’ll be ready to eat.