We like to put Swiss chard on the table as the meal's vegetable because, like other leafy greens, it has lots of nutritional benefits. However, it can be a little bland so we add a few other ingredients like pancetta, shallot, and garbanzo beans to give it a lift. As the beans cook, they break down a little to thicken the cooking juices. We also like this heaped onto bruschetta as an antipasto or light lunch.
An Italian Take on Beans and Greens
This simple dish takes the classic combination of beans and greens and puts an Italian spin on things. Chopped shallots and salty, richly flavored pancetta add intrigue to hearty sautéed Swiss chard and meaty chickpeas, while a pinch of red pepper flakes add just the right amout of spice. This dish makes for one wholesome lunch or light dinner all on its own, but can also play side dish to roasts or become an easy appetizer when piled on bruschetta. Leftovers also keep very well, so you can dig into it tonight and then enjoy it a few different ways over the following days.
Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans (Bietole e ceci)
2 pounds Swiss chard, preferably rainbow chard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash the chard leaves and stems well in a large sink of cold water. Lift the chard out of the water, leaving the grit at the bottom of the sink. Shake off the excess water, but do not dry the chard.
Tear the stems from the leaves and chop the stems crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside. Stack the leaves and coarsely chop them. Keep the stems and leaves separate.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the shallot and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until the shallot softens, about 2 minutes.
Add the chard stems and beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stems soften, about 4 minutes. Stir in the leaves a handful at a time until wilted. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is tender, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make ahead: The chard can be washed and cut up to 1 day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
Reprinted with permission from Super Tuscan: Heritage Recipes and Simple Pleasures from Our Kitchen to Your Table by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar, copyright (c) 2017 Touchstone.