When I’m not reading or writing, I’m cooking. One of my favorite ways to destress, to do something tactile, to get away from the computer, is to experiment in the kitchen. I like working with raw ingredients, and watching them transform into a meal or dish my family and I can enjoy.
As someone who spends time thinking about where our family’s food comes from, I took the plunge and signed up for a CSA box this year. Living in Eastern North Carolina means we have access to plenty of local farms and fresh, organic produce and animal products.
Since it’s winter, we’ve received a lot of leafy greens and root vegetables, and so I’ve had to get a little creative. No problem, that’s what I love about cooking!
This week we got bunches of glorious chard and I had been craving fresh, Mediterranean flavors, so I made a chard and tahini dip, kind of like hummus.
Easier than it sounds, the dip turned out fantastic! Very fresh and crisp. The sautéed chard and garlic give it a nice depth of flavor. I served it with olives, left over, cold roasted tomatoes, and warm, toasted naan. Perfection.
1-2 bunches Swiss chard, yellow and green stems only
3-4 garlic cloves
juice of one lemon
3-4 tbsp tahini
about 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
Trim the leaves from the stems of the chard. Finely chop the stems and tear the leaves. Finely chop the garlic.
Heat half the oil in a saucepan on medium heat and sauté the stems until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir till aromatic, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the torn leaves a handful at a time until wilted. Sauté the mixture for an additional 5 to 6 minutes until all components are soft and the leaves are cooked down by half.
Remove from heat and cool enough to handle. Squeeze the juice from the chard, reserving the cooking liquid. I did this by placing the chard into a strainer and then pressed it flat with a bowl. You will end up with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of liquid.
Put chard and garlic, 1 tbsp of cooking liquid to start, lemon juice, and tahini in a food processor and blend. This will take some time; you want the leaves so finely chopped that the dip is not grainy. Add cooking liquid as needed. When you start to reach a nice consistency, add the remaining extra virgin olive oil.
Serve with a little additional oil drizzled on top. Delicious warm or cold, and the dip will keep in the fridge for about 3 days.
Jenny Bowman is a freelance children's book editor and an aspiring children's book author. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, experimenting in the kitchen, or losing track of time on the beach.