Saturday, January 26, 2013

Swiss Chard with Tomatoes , Pine Nuts and Olives (Bietole con Pomodori, Pinoli e Olive)

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Oooh Aaah, Pretty colors!  You bet pretty and that makes it a wonderful dish to serve for a dinner party... Still recapping, this week I am posting recipes and thoughts behind a large (for me) "formal" Italian dinner party for 8 people.  5 courses, 7 separate dishes (plus a drink) all cooked fresh, served in a timely manor and of course, tasty and delicious.

I have already covered the Antipasto course (2 "party" Trays (Cured meats and Cheeses) and a plate of Bruschetta) ...Italian antipasto - Antipasto all'italiana. Then yesterday I posted the first of two Primo courses (the first course, appetizer, starter course), a wonderfully unique Fennel and Blood Orange Salad. All of that was especially easy as there was no cooking involved, The Antipasto was set up before the guests arrived. The salad was simply brought out of the marinade and put into a serving platter to pass. I did start to cook a bit when i made pasta, cooked it, made a sauce and mixed the pasta in the sauce (not as hard or time consuming as it sounds, as it took less than 10 minutes to make the Pepper Pasta With Brown Butter Sage Sauce! Remember, Mise en Place and prep work is your friend as you want everything to run like clock work.  I planned to make 2 different Contorni (Side dishes or the vegetable course). Once again, as with the Primo (pasta and salad course) I chose the dishes for a variety of reasons, but center stage was the ease of cooking.  I had made a , Potatoes in a Pouch (Patate al forno in un sacchetto).  This simple potato dish has several advantages for a party platter. First, they are very tasty. Simply baked in a pouch with sage and olive oil. The extra kick is the raw bacon that cooks and seeps bacon fat into the potatoes as they cook. But the big advantage is that they are another no mess no fuss dish. All you have to do is open the foil, pour them in a serving platter and enjoy.

This freed me up to actually cook the second Contorni course of quick sauteed tomatoes, Swiss chard and more. I was also serving a main course of a braised pork loin. Again, all this had already been set in motion. So I only needed to remove the pork loin, allow it to "rest" for 5-10 minutes before slicing, work the Swiss chard dish, make a gravy for the pork and plate this potato dish. Again, sounds like a lot, but it all only took another 10 minutes.

remember, it's an Italian dinner... No rush, enjoy the meal and relax... Everyone will get fed, everyone will enjoy the evening.

The key to cooking this dish fast is to have everything Mise en Place or already diced, torn, measured and ready to go.  The dish only takes 10 minutes total cooking time if you are ready to go.  If you mix continents, just think of this as a vegetarian stir fry.

 OK... Here's what I did...

Swiss Chard with Tomatoes , Pine Nuts and Olives 
(Bietole con Pomodori, Pinoli e Olive)

  • 1 Head Swiss Chard, Green Leaves stripped from the stems, torn into business card size pieces
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Red Onion, Large Dice
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Peeled and minced
  • 1 Dozen fresh Olives, Pitted, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
  • 6 Medium Plum Tomatoes (I used fresh Kumato tomatoes)
  • To Taste Salt and Pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large saute skillet, heat the Olive Oil over medium high heat until just before it starts to smoke.
  2. Add the Onion and garlic. Saute until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the olives, pine nuts and garlic and saute for another minute.
  4. Add the Swiss Chard and Saute for 2 minutes until the leaves have wilted
  5. Add the Chicken stock
  6. Add the tomatoes and heat until the liquid simmers, a couple of more minutes.
  7. Taste, add salt and pepper if needed
  8. Serve HOT and ENJOY

You betcha it was.  and a PERFECT side dish.  Totally unexpected from my guests, looked wonderful and a blend of flavors.  An opportunity to discus Italian cuisine and what makes it special.  Not a lot of seasonings and sauces that mask or alter flavors, but blending fresh ingredients, often ingredients that are easily available in any Italian grandmother's garden.

And of course the ready on 10 minutes aspect worked great for the party.


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Authentic Italian Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop. The world's most popular cuisine, authentic, natural, organic, Farm to Table... the Italians started, perfected or embraced it before it became a fad. This page is a guide to Italian Cooking... For the home cook!  So, Cin Cin (toast) and Buon Appetito (Enjoy your Meal) to you all and let's Cook authentic Italian!


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