The first time I ever nibbled on a chard stem while prepping a big bunch of greens, I was blown away by the flavor of this usually-discarded bit of vegetable. Crisp and salty, chard stems are good chopped up in salads or cooked alongside chard leaves, but the recent issue of Bon Appétit suggests an even better use: spicy refrigerator pickles!The idea comes from Doug Flicker, a chef at the Minneapolis restaurant Piccolo. He mixes up a basic refrigerator pickle brine of distilled white vinegar, sugar and celery seed, then adds three big tablespoons of Sriracha sauce before pouring the mixture over the stems. The pickles sit in the refrigerator for a few days and then are ready to eat.
I used rainbow chard stems, which are almost unnaturally gorgeous bunched together in a big canning jar. I made my brine slightly less sweet — I used about 1 ½ cups of sugar per cup of vinegar — but added the full amount of Sriracha. After two days of brining, the stems were a little sweet, a little spicy, and refreshingly acidic, exactly what you might want alongside a plate of grilled food this weekend. (I would recommend cutting the pickles into bite-size chunks before serving, which will make them easier to eat.)
It's not too late to start brining for a Sunday cook-out!
Anjali is a former private chef who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in nutrition, with plans to become a registered dietitian. She lives in Los Angeles. You can read more of her health-focused writing at Eat Your Greens.
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