I have been eating raw kale salads for four years now. I remember the first one I had. I was in California, shocker, with my aunt, enjoying lunch at a place called, wait for it, True Food Kitchen. We loved the Tuscan kale salad so much that we asked the server for some details. We learned, if I remember correctly, that the kale had marinated in lemon and olive oil before it was tossed with breadcrumbs and parmesan. In 2010, eating kale raw (for many of us) was revolutionary.
I have eaten and prepared many many many raw kale salads since, and yet, not once — not once! — has it occurred to me to try treating Swiss chard, a green I seem to have on hand at all times, in the same manner. For whatever reason, I have relegated chard to the vegetables-that-require-cooking family, and just last week I learned that this placement was seriously misguided.
Chard, like kale, loves a lemon dressing, and when tossed with breadcrumbs and parmesan, its leaves relax, more so than kale in fact, and any bitterness disappears. Last week, when I asked the world wide web if chard could be eaten raw, it pointed me to this salad, which I made immediately, and then again and then again. The dressing is simple — the juice of one lemon plus a quarter cup of olive oil — and the breadcrumbs, seasoned with garlic and pepper flakes, are irresistible.
Light, lemony, refreshing — chard has never tasted so summery.
Swiss Chard Salad with Lemon, Parmesan & Breadcrumbs
Slightly adapted from Food52
Serves 4 as a starter
Notes: It's important to get good chard here. We've been getting beautiful chard from our CSA. Farmers' markets, obviously, are a great source. *The third time I made this, I was out of bread — the horror! — and I used two English muffins instead. Worked like a charm. Also, I zest the lemon right into the bowl of chard, but you can add it to the dressing, too — it doesn't make much of a difference. And I add a pinch of red pepper flakes, but again, this is just personal preference.
1 bunch Swiss chard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs*
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
3/4 cups grated Parmesan, Grana Padano or Pecorino
- Wash and dry the chard and remove the stems from the leaves. (Save stems for another use.) Stack a few of the leaves on top of each other, roll them like a cigar and cut the cigar into thin (1/8-inch) ribbons. Repeat until all the leaves are shredded. Put the leaves into a large salad bowl.
- Warm 1/4 cup olive oil in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until they are crisp and golden brown (about 5 minutes). Be careful not to burn them! Stir in the garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper flakes, and let them toast for another minute, then remove from the heat.
- Zest the lemon into the bowl of chard. Juice the lemon into a small mixing bowl. Add a few generous pinches of salt. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of the olive oil.
- Add the Parmesan and about 2/3 of the lemon dressing to the bowl. Toss until nicely coated. Taste and add more dressing if you like. Toss in the toasted breadcrumbs and serve immediately.
This is garlic from our CSA. Four enormous cloves per bulb. Isn't it pretty?