Sunday, February 28, 2016

Smoky Swiss Chard with Caesar Dressing and Garlic Breadcrumbs

When I lived in Los Angeles my sister and I started our own eating out club, trying fun and more high end restaurants so we could eat good food, dress up, and have a sisters' night out. On one of those nights we ate at Gjelina in Venice Beach, on Abbott Kinney Boulevard and a love affair began.

Small plates, amazing pizza, great wine list, fun people watching and just mind blowing food, every single time. And then 101 Cookbooks posted a recipe from Gjelina the cookbook. Who knew! Bought the book immediately and made this; it felt like I was sitting in that noisy corner restaurant again only we're more than 1,000 miles away. I can't rave enough, so I'll just sit back and let you all enjoy discovering the magic.

Reading through the book cover to cover in one sitting, no joke, I realized again the importance of garnishes and sauces for making a dish special. The vegetables really are the stars although there are chapters on meat and fish; but don't be fooled into thinking vegetarians won't adore this book as well. What chef Travis Lett does with condiments will split your head open like you had inhaled pop rocks!

Lett grills lots of greens in the restaurant and many of the recipes include this technique. While I made the dressing exactly as the recipe directed, I used the swiss chard that I had and grilled it on a flattop cast iron pan (it's round like a pan but has no sides) and it produced an incredibly smoky flavor with the chard. When summer comes, grilling greens (kale, lettuces, chicories) will surly become a staple.

Smoky Swiss Chard with Caesar Dressing and Garlic Breadcrumbs
(serves 2)

2 bunches swiss chard, washed and destemmed
1 cup garlic bread crumbs, smashed but not pulverized *
olive oil

1 clove garlic
8 anchovy filets (rinsed if packed in salt)
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon capers
3/4 cup olive oil
splash worchestershire sauce
splash tobasco

* To make garlic breadcrumbs, saute 2 cloves garlic minced in olive oil and toss with cubes of dried bread. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Place garlic, anchovies, mustard, lemon juice, capers and yolk in small food processor (or pint size mason jar fitted with blender blade) and pulse to combine. If using food processor, slowly drop in olive oil with machine running to emulsify dressing. If using blender, pour dressing into a bowl and slowly add oil and whisk to emulsify. Once all oil is added return to blender and process until dressing thickens.

Heat flat top grill or skillet over medium high heat for at least 10 minutes. Pour a thin film of oil on top and fry chard leaves until they soften and begin to char; remove from heat and place in a bowl and repeat with all chard. Turn off heat and roughly chop chard and place on plates. Drizzle dressing over top and garnish with garlic bread crumbs.


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