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Swiss Chard Dressed in Blackcurrant Balsamic

October 9, 2011

Allspice has been spicing up Des Moines’ East Village for about a year now, but I just discovered it about a month ago. The Midwestern Gentleman and I had taken my Mom, who was visiting from New England, down to the East Village for an afternoon of wandering and eating and shopping, when we happened by Allspice’s open door.  Never one to pass up an opportunity to sample new spice options, I stepped in and surveyed the shop’s slightly industrial interior.  What really caught my eye were the metal urns arranged in rows at the back of the store, each with a stack of tiny plastic tasting cups next to it.

The urns are filled with dozens of infused balsamic vinegars and oils.  Citrus balsamic vinegar?  Check.  Chocolate balsamic vinegar?  You betcha.  The proprietor suggested we pair the chocolate balsamic with the walnut oil, and as soon as the sample hit my taste buds, I realized with a sinking heart that I would be spending a lot of money in this store over the months to come.  After sampling and comparing and speculating on menu possibilities, the Gent and I finally settled on a bottle of the blackcurrant balsamic vinegar.  We envisioned it in salad dressings and dipping sauces, naturally, but also thought its tart fruitiness would pair nicely with salmon in a reduction, or cut through the richness of a cheesecake or darkly chocolate dessert as a syrup.

One of the ways I’ve been enjoying the new vinegar is on swiss chard.  This simple dish makes a great side for chicken or fish dishes, and I’ve even chopped it fine and mixed it with ricotta and grated parmesan to fill baked, stuffed shells.

Swiss Chard with Blackcurrant Balsamic

1 bunch swiss chard

1 clove garlic

2 tsp olive oil

2 Tbsp fruity balsamic vinegar

freshly cracked black pepper and salt to taste

Separate the chard leaves from the stems.  Cut the stems into 1/4″ slices.  Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces.  Crush the garlic clove.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the sliced stems and garlic clove.

Saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until chard begins to soften, stirring occasionally.  Add in the chard leaves and the balsamic vinegar.  Stir or toss to coat the leaves with oil and vinegar.  Continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until vinegar has evaporated and chard leaves are soft but still bright green.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately, or let cool before mixing with ricotta and grated parmesan for a pasta filling.

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