Using chard for the filling of the ravioli alla genovese meant I had leftover chard stems. I thought what a home cook from Genoa would do with leftover chard stems, and that is how I came up with this contorno (side dish) of baked chard stems. To add some flavor and texture, I topped the chard stems with breadcrumbs flavored by anchovies, garlic, and marjoram. This is a very tasty way to prepare chard stems, that is lighter than a gratin with cheese. I served these as a side dish for the secondo piatto of veal from the sugo di carne alla genovese.
For 2 to 4 servings as a side dish
500 grams (1.1 lbs) chard stems
70 grams (1/2 cup) dry breadcrumbs
60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp minced fresh marjoram
1 Tbsp minced anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash the chard stems and trim the ends. Cut them in half lengthwise and then in 5 cm (2″) pieces, or whatever shape you like.
Parboil the chard stems in salted water for 10 minutes, then plunge in cold water to stop the cooking, or vacuum seal them…
…and cook sous-vide for 45 minutes at 84C/183F. Cooking them sous-vide ensures they hold their flavor and shape better.
In any case, the chard stems should be tender but still firm to the bite.
Pat the chard stems dry with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
In a bowl, combine 70 grams of breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon minced anchovy, 2 tablespoons minced marjoram, 1 minced garlic clove, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
Stir to mix, then add 60 ml of extra virgin olive oil…
…and mix again until the mixture looks homogeneous.
Arrange the chard stems on a baking sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper) in a single layer, and spread out the breadcrumb mixture on top.
Bake at 200C/400F until the breadcrumbs are golden, about 20 minutes. Serve at once.
These clam cakes or clam fritters are crispy and golden brown on the outside, and soft and airy on the inside with an elegant taste of the sea.