This one is for my friend Liv, and goes back to the days of when things were really going d-o-w-n at Intrawest/Playground in Montreal. Over a not too long period of time, our team had been decimated by those-who-rule in Vancouver and as a result we were floating around a too large office space, so the decision was made to sub-lease. All was good until we realised that we were going to have to give up our precious kitchen. Unfortunately our threatened protests did nothing, and our ‘kitchen’ was relegated to the back storage room. With no running water and the roof threatening to collapse after enduring numerous Montreal monsoons, it was like something out of a warzone. However, this did not stop the few of us remaining from using it to assemble our daily nosh. One day Liv came in to the warzone to reheat her lunch. Consisting of a bowl of leftover swiss chard…it didn’t look like much, but I wasn’t put off as invariably her leftovers tend to look a little mushy, and this is a vege that I like a lot!
Anyway, we got to chatting about recipes, and she told me one that her Italian mother makes regularly (like any good Italian mama, she grows her own swiss chard). It was so simple…swiss chard, garlic, olive oil, her mum’s dried pepper flakes (from her garden) and potatoes cooked slowly until a melting mix of flavours, served over pasta with a generous grating of parmesan. I made it that week, and from there I was hooked on swiss chard a la Italienne!
When we first arrived in Paris, I could not find swiss chard…but like the truffle dog that I am, I have since managed to hunt it down (actually, it wasn’t too hard…just had to wait for it to come into season). This week’s version of swiss chard was inspired by a jar of haricot beans that I’ve had in my very small cupboard for a couple of months now…it was time to use them! I came across a recipe by one of my favourite Italian chefs, Lidia Bastianich, in her book “Lidia’s Italy” for Braised Swiss Chard and Cannellini Beans…replacing the cannellini with the haricot beans.
Served with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous grating of pecorino or parmesan, the beans literally melt into the swiss chard – its a very earthy, comforting dish. As for leftovers, they just keep on getting better and better with each passing day – I toasted pieces of baguette and spooned over barely warmed…delicious!