June 28, 2008

Swiss chard with shrimp and soba noodles

On a hot summer night it is always a good idea to find cooling foods that make you feel good and don't weight you down. This dish was a satisfying combination of hot and cool, spicy and satisfying.

We had gotten a good bunch of beautiful chard from the Barefoot farmer--our CSA farm share --as well as more green onions and elephant garlic than I knew what to do with. The produce has been amazing and we are really loving it, but sometimes there is a lot of one ingredient and it becomes a challenge to not let it go to waste.

So I bought some shrimp, peeled and deveined them and grilled them quickly in a grill pan on the stove. I sauteed some garlic and chili in olive oil first, then added the shrimp and a little surprise element that I think really elevated the dish from good to great. I made a little sun-dried tomato pesto with basil from my garden, parsley from the farmer, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, pine nuts and a few sun-dried tomatoes. It was a chunky pesto that I forsee using in many different ways: with some added pasta cooking water to thin it out over spaghetti; or spread on crostini for an antipasto; or, as in this case, tossed into my grilled shrimp for extra flavor.

Once the shrimp were done, I turned off the heat, then blanched the chard until just wilted, then added fresh minced garlic, a glug of olive oil and salt and set that aside. Then I cooked my soba noodles -- enough for two people--drained them and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, I had made a little green onion soy vinagrette earlier in the week to use up some of the copious amounts of green onions I had. This would make a great little dressing for my cold salad!

To finish, toss noodles and chard in bowl with about 1/2 c of dressing, place shrimp on top and garnish with fresh green onions and some fresh ginger and let those flavors go to work! They'll make you feel healthy and vibrant and cool off the body all at once. No wonder they eat this kind of thing in a sultry place like Thailand. It's not bad in the hot and humid South either.

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