I fell in love with Swiss chard at first sight. I first spied this vegetable at the local farmers market while I lived in Illinois. And there is a specificity to my infatuation – they must be of the rainbow variety. Large shiny radiant green leaves pillared by a red stalk and multiple veins throughout. What’s not to love? Two years ago, I took my infatuation to the next level and started a garden flirtation with this nutrient-dense veggie. I dedicated a 4 by 1 ft section of our tomato garden to their cultivation. Unfortunately, I waited too long to harvest and by then they had an earthy flavor that was most disappointing. Still, I just loved the way they looked in the garden and so allowed them to grow to near Jurassic proportions. Last year, in my second attempt, our nutrient depleted soil resulted in a single plant which I was loathe to cut. Enter this year and Anders’ threat that if we are giving up much-prized tomato real estate for this vegetable, then we had better have something to taste for it. Thus warned, I embarked on a mission of soil amendment research and implementation that an agronomist would approve of.
And the rewards are in: copious quantity of Swiss Chard in our garden. Having learned my lesson, I started harvesting early by removing the outer leaves and using them in a variety of culinary configurations: salads, steamed, sautéed, quiche, soups. Still, these five plants seem intent on matching my enthusiasm with continued growth and keep producing more leaves than I can use. Last week, I decided to invent a new use for them that would make them sandwich bloggable. And so, for the first time anywhere (on this blog)….Swiss Chard Smoked Salmon roll-up.
This required large leaves of Swiss chard and posed a challenge new to our budding sandwich blog: how to ensure the leaves don’t fall apart in the rolling process. You see.. although baby Swiss chard leaves are quite supple (not unlike baby lettuce), the larger leaves tend to be a bit brittle and I feared, would not survive the rolling process. So I had my Eureka! moment: blanch them. Blanching is just a fancy term for partially cooking veggies in hot water. I just put some water to boil in large sauté pan, dunked the leaves in for about 30 seconds, removed and dried them with a paper towel and Voila we were ready for a sandwich adventure.
- 2 large leaves Swiss chard (blanched and dried)
- 4 thin slices of your favorite medium-strong cheese
- 2 tsp garlic spread
- 4 oz smoked salmon, sliced
- 1 medium carrot
- 2 tsp white balsalmic vinegar
- 8 leaves basil
- Optional: 8 nasturtium flower petals
How to assemble a Swiss Chard Roll
After blanching the swiss chard you want to start getting all the fillings ready. For that, grate the carrots and toss with the balsalmic vinegar. Truly, you can leave the vinegar out but Anders is a lover of mulitple layers of flavor, hence it’s addition. You may also just add the juice of some lemon.. anything to as Emeril says “take it up a notch”.
Dry the blanced swiss chard leave and lay flat on a counter or cutting board. Apply the garlic spread over the surface of the leaf and begin adding the toppings in the following order: thinly sliced salmon, four basil leaves, 2 slices cheese, 1/2 of the carrot and then 4 of the nasturtium leaf. Again, this last one can be omitted. But once again, my gardening diligence paid off with rampant growth of nasturtium. (My newly acquired sister-in-law said they were edible so of course I had to try them. Thanks Birgit!)
Now comes the fun part. If you haven’t over-blanched the swiss chard, you should be able to do this without too much trouble. Starting from the narrowest portion of the swiss chard, begin rolling tightly until the rollup is complete. Secure with toothpicks. Slice and enjoy. This rollup must be eaten immediately or else all those fresh ingredients will just expire on you.
Surprisingly this is quite filling. I made this about 3:00 pm on Saturday after a long shopping day and intended this to serve only as a small meal to tide us over until dinner. However, after having this with a glass of wine, we were good for the rest of the day. No dinner needed!