My fridge is a mess. I like to fancy myself a focused shopper; I know what I want to cook, I carefully make lists of the ingredients I don’t have yet and I don’t come home until every item is crossed off.
Eh, hold on a moment because somewhere on the other side of a computer screen, my husband just snorted coffee through his nose. Look, I aim to be a focused, efficient shopper, I really do! It’s just that often the gap between my aspirations (look at my to-do list, and all of those little check marks!) and my reality (oh, we’re out of milk, eggs and flour? I thought I’d checked!) is big. And filled with a husband, who often gets relayed to a store because I’d forgotten one little thing.
Nevertheless, my fridge is a mess of my own making. Unable to find half the things I’ve been hoping to at the market lately, I’ve been walking away with random pretties that I have no immediate plans for, and on Thursday, it was time to stage an intervention or Let Good Food Go To Waste, which as you all know, is an unforgivable offense. And so I did what I too rarely do, which is throw some stuff together and see where it takes me, in this case, to a warmer weather version of creamed spinach, with chard and spring onions. Except, I got the math a little wrong and ended up with too creamy greens (woe is me!) and used some pasta and Parmesan to distribute the extra and lo and behold, I had made a most delicious lunch. I really should do this more often.
So this is a recipe for those of you who ask about the kinds of things I throw together from what is in front of me; I am not going to make any all-cap demands that you Make This Right Now, I don’t believe I’ve reinvented greens and pasta, but I liked this. It was filling and indulgent, yet far enough from the mac-and-cheese line that I could pass it off as a weekday lunch. And most importantly, I’m clearing space in the fridge for my next big idea, which had better involve carrots as I might have gone overboard buying them once I discovered a certain tot’s propensity toward them.
Next up: I’m debating working through my cooking (and fridge/pantry) backlog with daily posts this week. Someone please talk me out of it?
Creamed Chard and Spring Onions
Adapted from my Creamed Spinach
You can swap cream or half and half for all or a portion of the milk, if you want this to be extra lush. You could also stir in a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan. I won’t tell.
1 1-pound bunch Swiss chard, thick stems removed and leaves sliced into ribbons
3 spring onions, ends trimmed, white and some green parts sliced into thin coins
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
Salt and pepper
Wash your chard, but no need to dry it, just place it in a large pot over high heat. Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 6 minutes.
Press or squeeze out the excess liquid any number of ways, either by wringing it out in cheesecloth (my favorite method), putting it in a mesh strainer and pressing the moisture out with a spatula or large spoon or letting it cool long enough to grab small handfuls and squeezing them to remove as much water as possible.
Wipe out the large pot so you can use it again. Heat milk or cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Keep warm. Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic, if using, in butter in your wiped-out large pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about six minutes. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, about three minutes. Add warm milk or cream in a slow stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, three to four minutes. Stir in chard, then salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until heated through.
To make Creamed Chard and Spring Onion Pasta: Use 1 3/4 cups of milk instead of 1 1/4 cups. Stir 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan into the sauce while cooking, and keep extra on hand for serving. This should be enough to toss with about half a pound of pasta (more or less depending on how saucy you like yours).