Back a few weeks ago, Jeff and I had an amazing dinner at a little place called Caffe Bella in Randolph, MA. It is a cute little Italian restaurant with a warm atmosphere, great bartenders and amazing food. We decided to sit at the bar where Jeff ordered lamb medallions and I ordered the swordfish steak (one of my favorites!). Jeff's lamb was served on a bed of sauteed swiss chard and butter beans in a tomato broth. It was so flavorful, I kept eating from the bottom of his dish. It was a perfect complement for the lamb. Over the next few nights, Jeff mentioned how much he liked the swiss chard and butter beans and I most certainly agreed.
We are getting ready to go grocery shopping when Jeff came across a recipe in Lidia Matticchio Bastianich's Cookbook - Lidia's Favorite Recipes. It was a side dish recipe for braised swiss chard and cannellini beans. It seemed similar to what we had eaten at Caffe Bella, so we picked up the ingredients to enjoy with a strip steak.
I'm going to explain quickly how we cooked our steak in the stove top to oven fashion. Our steak was about one inch thick. We have a Le Creuset Square Skillet Grill which we use to cook our steak, chicken, pork chops and hamburger. You can also cook your steak on the grill.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the skillet over medium heat, grease the pan with a thin coat of vegetable oil.
2. Salt and pepper both sides of the steak.
3. When the skillet is hot, cook the steak for 5 minutes on one side (for medium-rare) 6 minutes for (medium). Turn the steak and then place the skillet into the oven for 5 -7 minutes, depending on how you like your steak.
4. Remove from oven and remove the steak from the pan. Cover the steak with aluminum foil for 5-7 minutes to allow it to rest before cutting.
OK, back to the story - This past summer we had the opportunity to grow swiss chard. It tasted so good, freshly cut from the garden and lightly sauteed. Now, whenever we come across recipes using swiss chard, we love to try them and then post the recipe...hoping we will remember to try it again this summer.
The swiss chard and cannellini bean dish cooked up quickly and had amazing flavor. The dish has a bit of a kick to it with the 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. If you like more heat, adjust the levels for your taste. The swiss chard and the beans, combined with the tomatoes is a hearty combination to serve with any meat dish.
NOTE: Since we made this dish, we cooked the recipe again, but we this time substituted kale for the swiss chard...it was equally delicious.
Try this side dish the next time you are making grilled steak, pork chops or chicken. It's an easy dish with a wonderful flavor. We can't wait for summer as we will be growing many of these ingredients and look forward to enjoying them fresh from the garden.
Ingredients for Braised Swiss Chard and Cannellini Beans (adapted from Lidia's Italy)
1/2 pound of dried cannellini beans, or 3 cups of canned cannellini, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 pounds (or more) of Swiss chard leaves
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 cup of canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
1. If using dried beans: Rinse the beans, put in a bowl with cold water and cover by 4 inches. Let soak in cool place for 8 hours or overnight. Drain the beans, and transfer to a large saucepan with fresh cold water to cover by two fingers. Bring to boil, partially covered, and cook the beans about 40 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Turn off heat and stir in ½ teaspoon salt, then let the beans cool to absorb the cooking liquid. Taste, and adjust the salt if needed.
2. If using canned beans, drain and rinse, place in a medium sized bowl and put to side.
3. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in the stockpot. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the Swiss-chard leaves. Cut off the stems at the base of the leafy part. Slice the leaves crosswise every 2 inches, into long strips.
4. When the water is boiling, drop in the swiss chard at once, stir, and cover the pot. Bring the water back to the boil, and cook the swiss chard for 15 minutes, until thoroughly tender—check a piece with a thick middle vein to be sure. Drain in a colander.
5. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil and the sliced garlic in the skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the garlic is sizzling, about 2 minutes. Drop the tomato paste into a clear spot in the pan, stir, and toast it for a minute. Toast the red pepper flakes in a clear spot too, then pour in the crushed tomatoes. Stir together.
6. Bring the tomato mixture to a boil, and pour in the beans. Stir, season with salt, and heat the beans, stirring constantly. When they’re simmering, stir in the swiss chard and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook rapidly to reduce the liquid, tossing the beans and greens over and over. This will take a few minutes. As the juices thicken, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil all over, toss the vegetables, and simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes, until most of the liquid is gone.
Serve immediately, or set aside covered, and reheat later.
Written by Tricia White