my solution...as always...is to cook seasonly. i try to use only locally grown, in- season produce. my exceptions are the items impossible to grow in the napa valley. (example, bananas.) this way i can follow my favorite way of menu creation. go to the market (farmer's market when it is open)...select items purely based on what looks good that day...and then create the meal. i can't tell you how often i wander around the aisles making up dishes along the way.
the napa farmer's market is open may 1st through end of october....i keep hoping this will become a year-round market...maybe one day? in the interim, i am a whole foods junkie. i have told you before that...for me...fresh produce is like a work of art...the look, feel, smell...and taste... makes me very happy...and i love discovering an unfamiliar, heirloom variety of a common ingredient. today i found yellow chard....oh my!
i love greens...all kinds. they are delicious, healthy, extremely versatile and look beautiful on the plate. soups, stews, bean pots, sautés...all are enhanced by greens. but...back to the yellow chard...it was gorgeous! bright yellow stalks and veins...and lovely green leaves. i snapped up a bunch...and now the fun began. spring garlic is in season...yeah!...so i grabbed a few stalks. fresh leaks were next to the garlic so...in the cart. i thought the chard, garlic and leaks would be fantastic sautéed together and decided to make an easy-breezy bruschetta supper perfect for the winter-into-spring weather. the chard mixture served over thick slices of sourdough or french bread topped with parmigiano-reggiano cheese shavings...how great does that sound? for me...the perfect meal...just add a glass of wine...but i knew peter would want a little bit more...so i added sea scallops poached in infused lemon grapeseed oil to his plate....really, really good!
i encourage everyone to seek out unfamiliar produce items...especially the heirloom varieties...you never know what you will find. and if we all support the farmer's who grow the unusual ingredients, we can ensure the fruit/vegetables do not become extinct. there is something about the heirloom varieties...they just taste better...and...trust me...find the yellow chard!!
yellow chard bruschetta
(use organic vegetables if you can)
1 large leek sliced into thin disks...white and tender green parts
1 large or 2 small spring garlic stalks sliced into thin disks
1 bunch chard...yellow if possible...if not any kind you like. cut chard stalks from leaves. slice stalks into thin disks the same thickness as the garlic and leeks. chop chard leaves into bite sized pieces.
extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp napa farmhouse 1885 aglio olio peperoncini (or 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes)
freshly cracked pepper
grilled or toasted sourdough or french bread, thickly sliced
parmigiano-reggiano, shaved...as much as you like
heat 2 tbsp e.v.o.o. in a large skillet. add leeks and yellow chard stalks and cook,
stirring often, 6 to 8 minutes until soft. add spring garlic and sauté 2 minutes until garlic is soft and fragrant and just beginning to brown. add the chard leaves, 2 tbsp e.v.o.o., aglio olio peperoncini and salt/pepper to taste to the pan, stir well, and cover. cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
meanwhile, grill, broil or toast the bread in the oven. i use 2 pieces per serving. drizzle each piece with extra virgin olive oil. mound the chard mixture over the bruschetta and top with cheese. drizzle additional e.v.o.o over top if desired...serve immediately.
let's see...it is nearing the end of march. what local produce is in season in your area?....what are you cooking these days?? and...before i forget...there is a new csa based in napa starting up in april...i am joining and can't wait to share the recipes created from whatever is in my box each week....so much fun!
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The photographs are beautiful. The yellow chard looks really good. I will look for it at my Market. We don't have a Whole Foods. Do you have a suggestion where I can buy some?
hi mary ann...thanks so much for the kind words. my suggestion would be a farmer's market...or organic farmer. maybe a favorite local restaurant which features organic/sustainably grown ingredients would have some suggestions...good luck! (of course, you could always try growing your own!?
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