Chard stalks are soft and juicy when simmered, gently, in a seasoned liquid such as olive oil, lemon juice and water, or even vegetable stock. Their earthy notes sweeten. I like to introduce a layer of crunch by scattering seasoned breadcrumbs – in this case with sunflower seeds and parsley – over the surface. Light and gently flavoured, this is something to use as a side dish (we ate it again last night, with bread to soak up the juices) or to serve as a principal dish in its own right.
salami 100g, in the piece (optional)
olive oil 6 tbsp
chard 500g (300g stalks)
black peppercorns 8
For the herb crumbs:
ciabatta 100g, or other light bread
flat-leaf parsley 12 bushy stems
Remove the skin from the salami and cut it into 1cm-thick slices, then slice those into chubby matchsticks. Warm the oil in a wide, shallow-sided pan, for which you have a lid, then add the matchsticks of salami. Let the salami cook over a low to moderate heat for 5-7 minutes until it has scented the oil.
Remove the leaves from the chard, setting them aside, if they are in fine fettle, for another dish. Cut the chard stalks into short lengths – 3 or 4cm will do. Remove the salami from the oil and set aside for later.
Place the chard stalks, snugly in one layer, in the pan then leave to cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes until their colour has brightened, then pour in 200ml of water. Squeeze the lemon and add the juice to the chard, together with 8 black peppercorns and a little salt, partially cover the pan with a lid, and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Occasionally baste the chard with the cooking juices, turning the pieces over at least once.
Make the ciabatta into coarse crumbs. Chop the parsley leaves, not too finely. Warm the butter in a frying pan, add the sunflower seeds and let them cook for a minute or two until they smell warm and nutty, then add the breadcrumbs. Leave the crumbs to cook for a couple of minutes, moving them round the pan occasionally until they are crisp and golden. Stir in the chopped parsley, the reserved salami and, if you wish, a little salt (I don’t feel it is needed).
Scatter the crumbs over the salami and serve, spooning over the cooking juices as you go.
Source : Nigel Slater