I fell in love with Chef Jason Quinn’s baked Swiss chard. My leafy obsession started more than a decade ago, shortly after he opened the now-closed playground in Santa Ana. I sampled numerous dishes on the eatery’s a la carte menu and returned time and time again. Everything I tried was delicious but it was the chard that haunted me.
His take on fresh chard showed two textures: the soft, cooked leaves and the firmer bits of the center, colorful stems (ribs) – some red, others orange or yellow. The rich hues and appealing texture make the dish a welcome accompaniment to roast chicken or pork.
I’ve been known to drink it alone, with maybe a little crumbled feta sprinkled on top. Sometimes I pile small portions on toasted baguette slices and top them with slivers of Manchego cheese. I topped it with a fried egg and called it dinner. Delicious.
Jason Quinn’s Baked Rainbow Chard
Yield: 2 large servings or 4 smaller servings
1 large bunch of clean fresh chard
bowl of ice water
Extra virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
1/2 fresh red Fresno chili, stem, seeds removed (or leave in if you like spicy), thinly sliced crosswise, see Chef’s Notes
1 large garlic clove, peeled, thinly sliced crosswise
Chef’s Notes: Be careful when working with fresh peppers. Wash hands and work surface upon completion and DO NOT touch face or eyes.
1. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil over high heat; Quinn advises that the water should be as salty as the ocean. Add Swiss chard and blanch until the leaves have wilted. Drain well on kitchen paper, pat dry.
2. Cut blanched and drained Swiss chard crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chili and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is very lightly browned. Add drained, sliced Swiss chard and sauté, stirring frequently, until the leaves are very soft and the central stem (ribs) chunks are slightly tender but still a little crunchy. Taste and add salt if necessary. serve.