If a trip to the Italian countryside is not on your itinerary this year, best-selling authors Edward and Frances Mayes will transport you there by way of the latest in their cookbook series. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes From Our Italian Kitchen is filled with stunning photographs, simple, delicious recipes, and the couple’s signature inviting narrative about living and cooking in Italy.
The Tuscans, it seems, do not spend all day in the kitchen before having dinner guests. Instead, meals revolve around what is fresh and seasonal. Simply stocked pantries with staples such as cheese, nuts, beans and olive oil save time shopping, planning and prepping in the kitchen. It’s an inspiring message for all of us about the joys of eating simply, and healthfully, every day of the year.
Chard With Raisins and Orange Peels
Chard grows easily. How gratifying that it’s cut-and-come-again. If you have a plot for chard, you learn to harvest a huge quantity and steam an enormous pot at once. Then you drain and cool the much-reduced clump of greens, squeeze out the water and form softball-size balls. What a boon for the cook. You can freeze these balls individually in plastic wrap. They’re then ready for soups or this very typical sauté. Always use most of the stems, cut into small hunks. Kale works just as well in this recipe.
- ½ cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons vin santo or orange juice
- 2 large bunches chard
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- peel of 1 orange
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Soak the raisins for 15 minutes in the 2 tablespoons vin santo orange juice.
Cut off the tough ends of the chard stems and then slice the rest into 1-inch pieces. Steam the chard until the leaves are limp, about 7 minutes. Cool, squeeze out the excess water, then coarsely chop the chard and set it aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat (while the chard is steaming), cook the stems in the olive oil with the onion for 5 minutes, or until the stems are al dente. Add them to the cooked chard leaves and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the peel, raisins, vin santo, and pine nuts. Cook, covered, on medium-low heat, for 2 to 3 minutes to heat through.