Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stuffed Chard with Cranberry Balsamic Sauce

Well it's smack dab in the middle of spring and leafy greens are in… so in that they are selling them in bunches bigger than a soon-to-be-queen’s wedding bouquet, bigger than will fit on the shelves of even an industrial-sized refrigerator. I was barely able to stuff my local AZ chard in my cute Envirosax bag much less find room for the whole shebang in my crisper. That’s not a bad thing of course; chard is one of my favorite greens, and I knew what I was getting into when I bought it. It just meant that I needed to cook something chalked full of chard right away and plan to cook more chard as part of each and every meal for the next 7 days straight. No biggie. Just some menu planning.

I tend to think in regions when I plan a meal. Do I want Italian, Thai, Indian or Middle Eastern? I love exploring cuisines from around the world in my kitchen just as much as I love trying ethnic restaurants from anywhere on the globe. Lately though, when I am looking for new restaurants to try, I find that most of our options here are restaurants offering “New American” cuisine….huh? I don’t really know what that means. Classier than tuna casserole or putting lipstick on meatloaf? I began to wonder whether or not my ignorance is caused by an ill-defined genre of my unwillingness to branch out from my ethnic comfort zone. How strange does that sound – do I hide inside my bubble of worldly eats? Do I even know how to cook nouveau American in my own kitchen?

All the fixin’s for some smokin’ spring rolls were hanging out in my cupboard waiting to be wrapped in rice paper, but somewhere deep in my cooking subconscious rang these new insecurities regarding the absence of “American” recipes in my repertoire, save for my killer Mac n’ Cheez staple. Spring rolls felt too comfortable and I wanted to venture. After all, it’s can’t be blogged if it’s not a venture. So my big leafy bunch of greens came to mind as a sort of substitute for rice paper. I had also been dying to finish up the last batch of wild rice I got for Christmas. And it hit me? Is this what new American is? Remaking a spectacular ethnic delight but with homegrown ingredients? I don’t know, but these tasted fabulous.

Stuffed Chard with Cranberry Balsamic Sauce
Makes 3-4 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes


For the Wild Rice
½ c. Wild rice
3 c. Broth/water mix
1 sprig Thyme
1 sprig Rosemary

For the Marinated Tofu

8 oz. Extra Firm Tofu, drained
¼ c. Dry sherry
1 ½ T. Soy sauce
1 ½ T. Hoisin sauce
6-8 Drop of liquid smoke

For the Sauce
¼ c. Dried cranberries, sweetened
1 c. Water
¼ c. Balsamic vineagar
1 sprig Thyme
½ tsp Salt

For the Chard
1 Large carrot, sliced into 3” matchsticks
4-6 Large leaves of Swiss chard


Preheat oven to 400˚F.

For the wild rice: bring all rice ingredients to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer rice until tender, 40-45 minutes. Drain and set aside.

For the tofu: Drain and slice tofu into ¼” slices. Pat dry with a paper towel and place tofu in one layer in a glass baking dish. Combine remaining marinade ingredients and pour over tofu. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip slices over and bake an additional 10 minutes or until most of the marinade is absorbed. When cool enough to handle, cut tofu into matchstick slices. Set aside

For the sauce: Bring cranberries and water to a boil. Cook until cranberries have re-hydrated and water has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and lower heat to medium. Cook until sauce is reduced to ½ cup, 6-8 minutes. Set aside.

For the chard: To blanch the chard, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and using tongs place chard one leaf at a time in water until bright green, about 10 seconds per leaf. Remove from heat and plunge in ice water or run under cold water. Set aside and dab until dry. Do the same with the match stick carrots, cooking for 20 seconds. Drain and set aside.

To assemble: Place one leaf on a large plate. Place 3 T. wild rice, 6-8 slices of tofu, and 4-6 slices of carrots in the center. Fold up leaf by bringing bottom over the stuffing, folding in the sides, and roll the chard from bottom to top. Place on another plate and repeat with remaining leaves. When finished, drizzle cranberry sauce on top of each roll and serve.

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