A thick, grey flog has enveloped Eugene for days, sapping the color from our daily lives. Under these gloomy conditions, the bright red stems of this Swiss chard from Sweetwater Farm seemed worth preserving.
I blanched them quickly and soaked them in a brine similar to these refrigerator pickles. The sharp flavor of these chard stems, with a hint of anise, brightened up our foggy day feast of a beef and rio zape bean chili, farro from Lonesome Whistle Farm, roasted delicate squash, and sautéed chard.
Pickled Chard Stems1 bunch chard
makes 1 pint
makes 1 pint
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1. Set a pot of salt water to boil. Rinse the chard leaves, trim off the very tips of the stems, and then cut the stems from the leaves, which you should reserve for another use. Cut into 2 inch lengths. When the water is boiling, blanch the chard stems for 1 minute, then drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a clean pint jar.
2. Prepare the brine by combining the remaining ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour the brine into the jar to cover the chard stems. Let marinate for an hour. Serve or refrigerate. Use in a couple of weeks.