Swiss Chard and Prosciutto over Polenta

I’m due for a follow up on the last post, Chard Stem Hummus! What did I make with the de-stemmed leaves? Something unbelievably easy. Swiss Chard and Prosciutto over Polenta.
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You probably already know that the chard leaves lend themselves to a wide range of recipes. The leaves show up in recipes calling for some tomato here, a few dried fruits and nuts there, a touch of vinegar, or perhaps a little cheese. Last week I enjoyed Chard, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyère Crepes; also easy and delicious. I recently finished skimming through the expansive the book Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison. Deborah lists the following as good companions for chard:DSC_9290

  • olive oil, butter, sesame oil
  • quinoa, rice, potatoes, white beans, lentils, chickpeas, pasta
  • garlic, thyme, cilantro, basil, cumin, saffron, nutmeg
  • fresh lemon, aged red wine vinegars
  • eggs, cream, Gruyère, Parmesan cheese, tahini
  • My selected recipe is spot on with several of the recommendations. As for eggs, I’m not one of those people who thinks to reach for eggs as a dinner ingredient (besides in crepe and other batters or dough). However, in this recipe I can easily imagine the soft polenta replaced with soft scrambled eggs, served with some rustic toast on the side.

    Swiss Chard and Prosciutto over Polenta
    Adapted from Cooking Light on myrecipes.com
    Scaled to serve 2

    IngredientsDSC_9287
    a few slices prosciutto or pancetta
    , about 1 ounce, cut or torn into 1/4-inch pieces
    Cooking spray
    1 Tablespoon garlic
    , minced
    3/4 Cup low-sodium chicken broth
    1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme
    , chopped
    4 Cups Swiss chard leaves, coarsely chopped
    1/8 teaspoon sea salt
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    1 Cup prepared polenta
    , cooked from yellow cornmeal by following this recipe (scale down by at least half if feeding only 2 people) or freshly made instant polenta cooked according to package directions
    1/8 cup (.5 ounce) Parmesan cheese, shaved

    Head a large skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray or olive oil. Cook prosciutto about 10 minutes, until crisped. Removed the crispy pieces from pan and set aside.

    I love the flavor added with this step, but it sure makes a mess of the stovetop!

    I love the flavor added with this step, but it sure makes a mess of the stovetop!


    Add garlic and stir into the drippings in the pan for about 30 seconds. Pour in broth and add thyme. Raise the stove temperature to bring the mixture to a boil. Allow to boil for about 5 minutes to reduce by half.

    Add chard, salt, and pepper. Toss to incorporate.
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    Cover the pan. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until chard is tender, about 3 minutes.

    Spoon over polenta and top with prosciutto and Parmesan shavings.
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    Shrimp and Grits

    We’re eating healthy again! Sort of. Matt is in a weight loss competition among volunteer fire department members. So he is counting calories.  And I don’t want him to shed way more than me so I’m going to make a little more of an effort. Sadly, that means less ice cream, and more moderation.

    You wouldn’t think that shrimp and grits is a low-calorie option. But I pulled this recipe out of a recent Cooking Light magazine, and supposedly one serving is less than 300 calories!  And Matt loves shrimp and grits, as a rule, so I was excited to make it for him.  The only issue was that I did have to do a bit of actual grocery shopping for it. I did have the the half-and-half hanging around, and the green onions from the farm share. Polenta makes yet another appearance. The shrimp is from a frozen 2 pound bag from Costco that hangs out in the freezer. The mushrooms I did buy fresh.

    Shrimp and Grits with Mushrooms
    Adapted from Cooking Light
    Serves: approximately 6

    • 3 Cups water
    • 1 Tablespoon butter
    • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits or cornmeal polenta
    • 1.5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 Cup slightly packed in)
    • 5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

    • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

    • 2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped

    • 1 Cup chopped white onion
    • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
    • 8-ounces of presliced mushrooms (I used 4 ounces white mushrooms and 4 ounces exotic mushroom mix)

    • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (if you’re afraid of spice, lower the amount to 1/4 teaspoon)
    • 1/4 Cup half-and-half
    • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 Cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

    • 1/3 Cup chopped green onions

    Bring 3 cups water and butter to a boil in a small saucepan. While heating, make sure most ingredients are chopped, measured, and ready.
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    Heat a large nonstick pan and cook bacon until crisp.  While this is cooking, you could whisk the grits/cornmeal into the boiling water and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes, until smooth and desirable.
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    Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cheese. Cover to keep warm.

    A note about the cheese: the original recipe said 2 ounces, about 1/2 cup. But the size of your grated Parmesan must make a huge difference, because with my trusty kitchen scale I was well over the 1/2 Cup mark on my bowl and had just passed 1 ounce.  It seemed like a lot of cheese to me, so I stopped there.  I didn’t miss the parmesan flavor too much, more so on the second day reheat, so I would say 1.5 ounces is a safe bet.
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    Add white onion, garlic, and mushrooms to pan; cook 8 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown and give off liquid, stirring frequently. (At this point you could sautee a vegetable for the side, like green beans with garlic and red pepper like I did).
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    Add shrimp and red pepper; cook 3 minutes.
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    Combine half-and-half and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. A note about the flour: you will see from my final product that the sauce is not quite as thick as I would  like. I used the original recipe, which called for 1 tablespoon of flour, but it did not really thicken up. I suspected that I should have mixed in more flour. My suspicion was proven correct based on this website at least, so I updated the website to specify 2 tablespoons.

    I suppose the texture of my sauce could have been affected by the fact that I used lower-protein Better Than Bouillion Chicken Base–which, for the record, I bought because Cook’s Illustrated did a chicken stock/chicken broth test and rated this one of the top choices!
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    Add broth, flour mixture, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened a bit.
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    Top with green onions. Serve shrimp mixture with grits and green beans.
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    Another great thing: it only took about 30 minutes to make this pretty fancy-looking meal!
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    A perfect complement

    As you can imagine, sometimes my quest for using up food makes for an unusual diet.

    For example, I started last Sunday’s dinner with a kale and fruit smoothie, followed by grilled steak with chimichurri sauce, and topped off with bacon peanut butter cookies for dessert. Yep, you read that correctly.

    Of course, I can explain:  Awhile back I had preserved leftover kale by freezing it in an ice cube tray, and I still hadn’t used it up. I added frozen berries, banana, nonfat greek yogurt, and honey for my appetizer drink. I made chimichurri again because I had made cubes of leftover parsley and cilantro leaves in olive oil also saved in the freezer.
    As for the cookies….well, somehow my package of bacon wasn’t being used enough. And I had come across the recipe again from Joy the Baker. I was curious. How were they? All I can say is WOW.

    Let’s talk about something that makes sense together: eggs and greens.

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    This is what fresh collard greens look like!

    I’ll be experiencing an influx of greens in the coming weeks, so I’ll be sneaking them in wherever I can. This is a good thing, because it adds nutrition that I have probably been lacking lately.  Can we agree for a minute that bacon, in moderation, fits into a healthy lifestyle too? This is another easy and adaptable recipe.

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    Baked Eggs with Southern-Style Greens and Polenta
    adapted from a Whole Foods online recipe
    Serves: 2

    1/4 cup uncooked grits or polenta (coarse cornmeal)
    3/4 cup water
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    1/2 tablespoon butter
    2 slices bacon
    1 bunch collard greens
    , stemmed and roughly chopped
    2 eggs

    Stemming the greens is probably the most tedious part of this process. Here’s a quick hint to save time: fold the leaf in half over the stem so you only need to make one slice to remove it!
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    Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange 2 large ramekins (at least 5 ounces) on a baking sheet, grease, and set aside.

    I used the remains of a package of instant polenta, which requires only five minutes of stirring. If using packaged polenta, follow the package directions. All methods start with boiling the water and salt, whisking in the grains, and reducing the heat to low. If using cornmeal or grits, you’ll be stirring often for 10-15 minutes until thick and creamy.
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    Remove pan from stovetop. Stir in butter and season with salt and pepper. This is the step where I could definitely see something like shredded cheddar cheese added, if you’re into that sort of thing 🙂

    Divide grits among prepared ramekins.

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    Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until just crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. Roughly chop.

    Pour most of the bacon grease out of the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon. Add greens to skillet and cook, tossing often, until wilted and just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in bacon and season with salt and pepper. Arrange greens on top of grits in ramekins.
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    Crack an egg into the center of each ramekin and bake until whites are almost set, 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them or you’ll be sad like me and miss out on a runny yolk! Set aside to let cool briefly then serve.

    Not quite how it was supposed to turn out, with a set egg. That is what happens when you run upstairs to change your clothes toward the end of the cook time!

    Not quite how it was supposed to turn out, with a set egg. That is what happens when you run upstairs to change your clothes toward the end of the cook time!

    Still enjoyable.

    Still enjoyable.