Braised Chard Stems with Saffron and Tomato

4 servings
  • 1 pound chard stems
  • 1 quart water simmering with 1 bay leaf, 2 onion slices, 2 thyme sprigs, juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons approximately, basil leaves, torn into small pieces, plus extra for garnish
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Preheat the broiler on low.

  • Trim the chard stems, then cut into 2 to 3inch lengths, on the diagonal.

  • Drop them into the simmering water, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until tender but still just a little resistant to the knife, about 12 minutes. Scoop them out, reserving the cooking liquid.

  • Heat the oil in a 10inch skillet with the onion, basil, and saffron threads. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften and the saffron begins to yield its color, about 5 minutes. Add the blanched chard stems, season with salt and pepper, then add a cup of the reserved cooking water. Simmer, covered, until the stems are fully tender, about 7 minutes. Remove the lid, add the tomatoes, and cook until the remaining liquid has reduce to a syrupy consistency.

  • Transfer the cooked chard stems to a small gratin dish. Scatter the cheese over the top then slide under the broiler until the cheese is lightly browned in places. Garnish with a few more torn basil leaves, then serve

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