You know how certain songs bring you back in time or a certain smell will immediately transport you to a distinct memory of your past? Well, it should come as no surprise that certain foods have the same effect on me.
Swiss chard brings me back to summertime in the late 80s, running around outside with my best friend Keri, dancing to Madonna songs on my portable pink radio, “practicing” soccer in our yard and swimming in our pool next to my mom’s garden.
At 6 or 7, I wasn’t a very active participant in the garden, but I can vividly remember coming into the mustard colored kitchen after a long day outside and smelling the delicious aroma of garlic and swiss chard wafting through the air.
Olive oil, garlic, shallots, tomatoes and swiss chard. Summer in a nutshell.
I know we’re on the brink of October right now, but when I saw the swiss chard (which looked extra crisp & fresh) in the grocery store this week, I was immediately brought back in time and just had to grab some. Plus, I think we need a quick break from pumpkin.
This is hardly a “recipe” as it is a method. Olive oil + garlic + shallots, sauté. Add in stems and tomatoes, let cook. Add in leaves, cook until softened. Top with parmesan cheese.
The tomatoes create a broth which almost makes this like an earthy, simple soup.
There’s something incredibly “Italian Grandmother” about this dish. Maybe it’s just the smell of garlic and olive oil that I associate with past Sunday’s at Grandma’s for “macaroni & meatballs” or, maybe it’s the wooden spoon I always use when I break out the “pasta” pot. Either way, it’s warm and comforting just like an Italian Grandma would be.
So, if you asked me today what my most nostalgic food is, I’d have to say swiss chard. Not brownies, pop tarts or chicken nuggets like most American kids would probably associate with their childhood (unfortunately), but straight from the garden swiss chard. You did well, mom.
Summer Swiss Chard
Yield: 2 side dish servings
- 1 large bunch of swiss chard
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 2 shallots, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- parmesan cheese for topping
Heat olive oil in large pot on medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots, sauté until fragrant. Wash swiss chard, trimming off the ends. Cut off remaining stems from leaves and chop into 1 inch size pieces, add to pot with garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until softened a bit. Add diced tomatoes. Sauté for another couple of minutes, then add remaining coarsely chopped leaves. Toss to combine and let leaves boil down and soften for about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
What’s a food that makes you think of your childhood?