Swiss Chard & Mushroom Orzo Risotto

I am a big fan of leafy greens, but I had never had Swiss Chard until a few years ago! It is now a vegetable that we really like, and I was excited to see it in my veggie bag from Front Porch Pickings!! If you are a food nerd like me, check out this link and find out why it’s so good for you! It is packed with vitamins (vitamin K anyone?!) and antioxidants, one of which is great for regulating blood sugar. Double bonus! Anyway, back to dinner… I had a pork tenderloin that I needed to cook, so I chose to simply roast that with a few seasonings and make my side dish the star of the show! This recipe you has you standing at the stove a little bit, so grab a friend, a book, a glass of wine, whatever strikes your fancy, and get stirring! Hope you enjoy!

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Summer Squash & White Bean Saute

I feel like that commercial “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” I had great ideas of cooking up a storm while I was on maternity leave. Yeah, that didn’t happen! I’ve fed my family, but we’ve eaten a lot of frozen bag meals and spaghetti. Sorry guys! HOWEVER – We got a GREAT box from the CSA this past week and I just couldn’t ignore it, so I actually cooked a new recipe or two!! This was one I found in a stack of recipes on my dresser and it sang to me!! The beautiful squash had a place to go and we were not disappointed. The original recipe called for 1 medium yellow squash and 1 medium zucchini. I used 2 of each because I like to have a big side dish and adding the extra veggies is never a bad idea!! I also have to say I LOVE white beans. LOVE. We served this over brown rice. Please make this recipe! It’s so good!

Summer Squash & White Bean Sauté

Source: Adapted from Eating Well
Yield: 4 servings – about 1 1/4 cup each (very filling!!)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 medium yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried (I used dried)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 15- or 19-ounce can cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed (see Tip)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, summer squash, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring once, until the vegetables are tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Stir in beans, tomatoes and vinegar; increase heat to medium and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in Parmesan.

Cheesy Polenta with Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is one of the vegetables that I never quite know what to do with. It’s BEAUTIFUL! I had two good sized bunches from my CSA box that were BEGGING to be cooked into something delicious.

Along comes my friend Jill. Two facts about Jill – (1) She’s a fantastic cook and (2) she actually introduced me to goat cheese! I had never eaten goat cheese before that fateful day eating lunch at the Church Brew Works restaurant in Pittsburgh. That was maybe 7 years ago? I’ve lost track. But ever since then, I’ve loved it!! Anyway, Jill suggested that I try this recipe from Cooking Light and boy am I glad she did!

The recipe starts out with chopping of the chard. My chard was slightly soft because, well, I’m 9 months pregnant. I meant to make this recipe days ago and my body protested, so the chard got soft. Really, that’s not a big deal because you’re going to wilt it anyway!  You want to cut the tough stems off and then take the ribs out. The easiest way to do that is by folding the leaves in half and cutting the rib out. Save them, though, and finely chop then throw them in with the leaves! Nice little crunch!

Two bunches of chard = a TON of chopped leaves, but never fear, they cook down into not much at all!

As the greens are wilting, whip up the polenta and then layer it all in an 8×8 glass dish. While it bakes in the oven, you have time to make your main dish (if you’re having some meat) or sit and have a cocktail if this is all you’re making. Ahhh!!! Our meat of choice tonight was this amazing Balsamic Rosemary Pork Tenderloin.

The casserole will come out of the oven looking bubbly and delicious.

The Cooking Light version was firm, while mine was softer. (hypothesis – their pan was slightly bigger than mine. I didn’t care to measure!) Either way is fine – it will be so tasty that you won’t care!! MMM cheesy, veggie filled goodness that even my 2 year old liked!! I hope you’ll try it!

Cheesy Polenta with Swiss Chard

Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe
Serves 6 (about 1 cup per serving)

Chard:
2 bunches Swiss chard (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons water

Polenta:
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare chard, remove stems and center ribs. Discard stems. Finely chop the ribs and coarsely chop the leaves. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add chopped swiss chard and saute until slightly soft. Add 2 Tbsp water and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until wilted.

To prepare polenta, place 1 3/4 cups water, salt, and broth into a large saucepan over high heat. Gradually add the cornmeal, stirring constantly with a whisk. Allow the mixture to boil and immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Cook the polenta for 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Add cheeses, stirring constantly with a whisk. Spoon half the polenta into an 8×8″ baking dish coated with cooking spray, spreading evenly. Top with the chard mixture. Spoon sour cream over chard, spreading evenly. Add remaining polenta, spreading evenly.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Mexican-Style Black Beans

When I go out for Mexican or Cuban food, I love getting black beans. My only complaint, however, is that I feel like I need to drink a gallon of water afterwards because they are so salty!! We enjoyed some fajitas on the grill tonight and I wanted, no I needed,  good black beans. This recipe requires minimal chopping, a few minutes of sauteing, and then the rest is just ‘set it and forget it’!

Mexican-Style Black Beans

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onions
3/4 cup diced green peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 (15-ounce each) cans black beans, undrained
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1) Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers and saute for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute, until fragrant.

2) Add chili powder and cumin, stirring until combined with the onions. Stir in canned black beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmering beans for 30 minutes.

3) Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Salt & Vinegar Potato Salad

When I was pregnant with our daughter, I was so so SO sick. Blech. I feel sick thinking about how sick I was. I had the most random list of things that I could tolerate. That list looked like: Gatorade, canned peaches, frosted flakes, chicken fingers, mac & cheese, cheeseburgers, and salt & vinegar potato chips. Random and oh so healthy, huh!? It is a miracle of nature that I only gained 9 pounds the entire pregnancy (and gave birth to a healthy 7 lb, 7 oz baby girl who was 3 days overdue!).

All that to say, I love salt & vinegar chips. Still to this day I can eat them until my tongue hurts!! I had a pile of potatoes that needed to be cooked and found a recipe for salt & vinegar potato salad. My taste buds immediately perked up and I knew I had to make it!! I used a mixture of white and red potatoes and this is as easy as any potato salad you’d ever make. The onions can sit overnight – the longer the better. After a 24 hour soak, they add a punch of onion flavor without the unfortunate dragon breath that we all know and love! They are also a beautiful shot of color for this summery side.

Salt & Vinegar Potato Salad

Adapted from: Gourmet Magazine
Yields:8 servings

1 large red onion, cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-wide wedges and layers separated
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
3 lb medium yellow-fleshed potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), red potatoes or a combination of the two
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup olive oil

Toss together onion, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Marinate at room temperature, tossing occasionally, until slightly softened and pink, about 45 minutes. [Onion can be marinated, covered and chilled, up to 1 day.]

Cover potatoes with salted cold water in a 5- to 6-quart pot, then simmer, uncovered, until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. While potatoes cook, whisk together Old Bay seasoning with sugar, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and remaining 1/3 cup vinegar in a small bowl.

Drain potatoes in a colander, and when cool enough to handle but still warm, peel and cut into 1/2-inch-wide wedges. Toss warm potatoes with vinegar mixture in a large bowl. Add onion mixture and oil, tossing to combine. Add more Old Bay seasoning (to taste) if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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