Pockets of green

On a warm spring day when a coat of yellow daffodils and purple crocuses drapes over pockets of green, I think about swing sets, neighborhood strolls, and picnics.

I also think about swiss chard leaves stuffed with spoonfuls of red quinoa, pistachios, dried cranberries, and herbed goat cheese. Fresh parsley, thyme, and rosemary leaves enhance the herbs from the cheese. Tart but sweet cranberries mingle with the creamy supple cheese. The toasted nuttiness from the quinoa and pistachios add the finishing touches to these wraps. Drizzle some lemon juice and olive oil on top and dip the wraps in greek yogurt.

Pack them in parchment paper along with a small container of yogurt and some lemon slices and head straight to the park. I’ll meet you by the swings.

Swiss Chard Wraps
adapted from Whole Foods Market recipe

Yield 8 Servings

2 bundles swiss chard leaves
3 1/2 cups water (divided)
sea salt (to taste)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2/3 cup red quinoa (toasted)
1/4 pistachios (toasted)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
8 ounces herb coated goat cheese
2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley leaves (chopped fine)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (chopped fine)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves (chopped fine)
pepper (to taste)

optional garnishes:

fresh lemon juice
greek yogurt

Place quinoa in a fine strainer; rinse and drain. To toast quinoa, heat large skillet over medium heat and add washed quinoa. Stir quinoa constantly until dry with a nutty smell (about 5-8 minutes). Place toasted quinoa in a pot with a pinch of sea salt and 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer 15-20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Don’t stir while it is cooking.

Bring a large pot of water and salt to a boil. Blanch chard leaves, one at a time for 20-30 seconds to soften leaves. They should remain bright green with limp stems. Drain in a single layer on a tea towel-covered baking tray. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a baking pan with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil; set aside.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Transfer to a large bowl with cooked and cooled quinoa and toss gently to combine.

In a separate small heavy skillet, heat pine nuts and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add to quinoa mixture along with cranberries and herbed goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble, cut off thickest part of stem by cutting a “v” shape about one inch up from bottom of leaf. Turn leaf face side up and overlap bottom cut edges. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling near stem. Fold bottom sides in and roll to enclose the filling. Place open edge down in prepared baking pan. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling.

Drizzle remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil over finished packets. Cover loosely with foil. Bake about 15 minutes, until heated through.

If serving hot, finish the wraps with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. If cold, spoon a dollop of Greek yogurt on top with a squeeze of lemon juice.


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