Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring equals Greens

Spring has sprung all around us. And nature’s color wheel has clicked to green. For the next month or so our plates should be drenched in verdant leaves that give crisp texture when eaten raw, or soften smoothly when cooked. My basket is filled with a rainbow display of Swiss chard, puckering sorrel, gentle bitterness of newly arriving broccoli rabe.

I will use any of these delicate initial offerings interchangeably – most of us have a recipe for spinach substitute it with arugula, Swiss chard or escarole.

If you are like me, and just simply enjoy wilted greens I recommend that you wash them well to dislodge any dirt that has hitched a ride in from the country in a few changes of cold water. Let the greens dip dry or spin them dry. I heat my pan then add the greens and pour whatever oil I am using over the greens. The reason for this is that inevitably some water is still clinging to the leaves, and I hate the splatter of the oil as the leaves fall into it.

Swiss Chard Won-ton Raviolis - yields 8 servings
1 bunch Red or White Swiss Chard (approx. 2 pounds)
2 Garlic cloves - finely minced
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
salt and pepper
1 package Won-ton wrappers (approximately 50 count)
1/4 cup Corn starch
1/2 cup Olive Oil

Remove the rib from the leaves of the swiss chard. Wash both, but keep them separate. Bring a four quart pot of water to a boil and cook the leaves for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain. Roughly chop the leaves. Meanwhile, dice the ribs into small pieces and sauté in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the garlic for 5 minutes. Drain the ribs through a fine sieve over a large bowl collecting the cooking liquid given off from the cooked ribs. Reserve the liquid.

Toss the swiss chard leaf, rib and cheese together. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

On a won-ton skin place about a tablespoon’s worth of the swiss chard mixture in the center. Lightly dampen the edges with water and lay another won-ton skin on top. Carefully, squeeze out any air from the ravioli and pinch the edges to seal. Place the completed raviolis on a tray lightly dusted with corn starch (this helps prevent the raviolis from sticking to the surface). Continue with the rest.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly oil a baking tray and lay the raviolis down in a single layer. Lightly brush the tops of the raviolis with oil. Place in the oven and bake for 8 to10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Bring the reserved swiss chard liquid to a boil, season with salt and pepper and add remaining oil. Drizzle a little liquid over each serving.

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