Swiss chard has only recently become a popular vegetable in the US, but I grew up on it and loved it, and this was my favorite way of cooking it. Chard can be found with beautifully colored stems, which really adds to the presentation of this dish. Traditionally we used regular potatoes, but now I sometimes replace them with sweet potatoes. This dish is especially good when made in advance and reheated.
- 2 pounds Swiss Chard
- 4 quarts salted water
- 3 medium Idaho potatoes (about 1 ¼ pounds), peeled and cut crosswise into 4 pieces
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the chard: Trim the ends from the stems. Cut off and discard any wilted or yellow parts of the leaves. Strip the stems from the leaves, and cut the stems into ½ inch lengths. Cut the leaves in half lengthwise, then crosswise into ½ inch strips. Wash the leaf and stem pieces thoroughly, then drain them well.
Bring the salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the potatoes and cook 20 minutes, until tender. Add the Swiss chard stems. After another 10 minutes add the leaves, then cook all until the vegetables are very tender, an additional 5 minutes. Drain in a colander.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook just until it begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add the Swiss chard and potatoes, and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and mashing the potatoes, until the liquid is evaporated and the potatoes are coarsely mashed. If the potatoes begin to brown, adjust the level of heat to medium-low and continue stirring. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper, stir, and serve hot.