When I made the Fennel and Tomato Sauce I had an idea to make it like a pasta sauce and add some mussels. I was very excited that I would have fennel again and pasta, which I really have only rarely (and I decided it was time for a treat), to only have my high hopes and dreams squashed by my supermarket, which that day decided to be out of fennel! Oh, the humanity! (ok, deep breaths, think quickly and literally on your feet, while in the veggie section). So, you think, what could possibly replace fennel?
Swiss chard. Yup, Swiss chard. I was looking around the veggies and trying to think, a) what do I really feel like and b) what would go nicely with the sauce as it is, but replace the fennel. What made me choose Swiss chard? I thought of using the stalks as well.
I bought a nice, healthy thick bunch, but it looked different to me than the Swiss chard I know from N. America. It kind of looked like dino bok choy to me. I actually checked the translation in a dictionary, to see whether that is what I bought. It was Swiss chard. The stalks were shorter and smoother, and the leaves were again smaller and not crinkled (well, not as much anyway). It tastes like Swiss chard… so it has to be I guess… Since I did use the stalks, I don’t know how much of the stalks you can use if it is the big Swiss chard that I remember. Maybe not the entire stalk, maybe half of it….
Quite frankly, it turned out to be very nice… and it felt it had more greens than if I had put spinach. Maybe because I didn’t let it cook so much or maybe the spinach wilts more and faster than Swiss chard.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, stalks and leaves separated, and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 small (400 gr) can of chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 dash of paprika
1 dash of herbes de Provence
~20 frozen, shelled mussels
1. Heat the olive oil on medium, add the chopped onion, garlic and stalks and let it simmer. Put the lid on and stir once in a while. You need to give the stalks some heads-up, around 15-20 minutes, depending how crunchy/soft you like the stalks.
2. Add the Swiss chard leaves and the bay leaf and stir to coat. You can again put the lid back on and stir once in a while, less than 10 minutes.
3. Add the can of tomatoes, stir and add the spices, all but the parsley.
4. Add the mussels and let them cook/defrost, around 10 minutes.
5. Add the chopped parsley.
6. Taste to check the seasoning; add pepper. (I would wait to add the salt towards the end, because the Swiss chard is mildly salty in itself (my mom says the same thing about the large leaves of spinach) Btw, the Swiss chard was so nicely naturally seasoned with salt, that I was munching on it raw, as I was chopping the rest)
7. Toss this over some freshly cooked pasta, and done!
As I must have said in that other post, this seems to be highly adaptable, so let your imagination run wild, people!