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Grow (and Eat) Your Greens

Springtime is in full swing in Tennessee. The dogwoods, irises and tulips are blooming, and last week I was privy to an early edition of my CSA share: parsnips, watercress, chickweed and kale. I’m still trying to decide what to make with the parsnips (besides drying them for soup this fall), but the greens made their way into salads and stir-frys.

The freshness of the greens got me thinking about what I have in easy garden access: parsley, mint, spinach, arugula and chard. The last of these was the most inspiring, and I’d love to share some of that, and a great dish with you!

My synagogue garden is now entering its unbelievable fourth year. The winter of year two, we planted Swiss chard, and it has been going strong ever since. When I say strong, I mean, each plant is about two feet wide, and the largest leaves average a foot or more!

Since no one else seems to have caught on that this these greens are pure gold (except one 12 year old who brings it home for her gerbil) I decided to put them to good use. That being the case, aAfter teaching Sunday school a few weeks ago, I picked myself a bagful of the gorgeous edibles and brought them home for a treat.

That afternoon, I toasted up some pine nuts, plumped some raisins, and threw them in a pan with onions and the chard. I finished it off with a drizzle of brown rice vinegar. The end result was a delicious mix of sweet and savory, and the best part, what we in the south call pot likker, the juice left at the bottom of the pot of greens, traditionally sopped up with cornbread.

Below is a twist on what I made a few weeks ago. Variations are encouraged! Eat your greens, y’all…and for more enjoyment, grow ‘em, too!

Sweet and Savory Chard
¼ cup pine nuts (lightly toasted in a hot pan)
¼ cup raisins (soaked in hot water until plump)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic (diced) or an onion (thinly sliced)
6 cups (or a large bowlful) Swiss chard (washed thoroughly and torn into pieces)
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in medium-sized pan (I use cast iron). Sauté garlic in oil for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant; be careful not to burn the garlic. If using onion, sauté until translucent. Carefully place chard, one handful at a time, into pan and turn with tongs. Continue turning chard until wilted. Drain raisins. Mix raisins and pine nuts into chard sauté. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over sauté. Eat up!!!

Miriam Leibowitz is a vegetarian, avid gardener, long-time home cook and JOIN for Justice alumna. When she’s not teaching, Miriam is working to bring affordable, healthy food access to Nashville’s food desert neighborhoods, rebuilding relationships between the African-American and Jewish communities in Nashville, keeping women’s rights safe and working with others to make the world a better place. (Cue Kumbaya!)


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