I should have been prepared for this because it happens every year. My neighbour gave me a huge bag of Swiss chard from her garden. I am usually very exited about that bag and at the same time I am terrified. I like greens but I am not really familiar with them. When I grew up we had a head of salad once a week and during the winter months we would eat kale. Sometimes there was cabbage soup or cabbage rolls. But that was about it. I grew up assuming that you had to cook greens for at least an hour or so until they were edible. No wonder they hardly made it on our shopping lists even later in life. I tried my first chard only a few years ago when we found it at a local grocery store. Chard, kale. fresh spinach. All these things are often not available at grocery stores over here. Or they are, but only for two weeks or so. Greens are a fancy health food store thing and I used to overlook them for years when I simply couldn’t afford to buy at a health food store. And now I had this huge bag filled with giant chard leaves sitting in a corner of the kitchen, slowly turning into a character from a Kafka novel.
I only ever realise that I don’t have to be intimidated by a bunch of greens after I have cooked them. Even the biggest pile of chard will shrink into half a plate of greens and you don’t have to cook it for longer than five minutes for that to happen. This is a simple and improvised meal for one. You can make a lot of variations, depending on what you have on hand. Use different greens, if you like. If you add a grain like rice or quinoa this will make enough for two persons. Our daughter refuses to eat any greens that are not puréed into soups, green smoothies, or creamed spinach. So for her we made the tofu with green beans and rice instead, which may also be a great variation for everybody who has a hard time to find fresh greens.
Swiss Chard with Sesame Tofu
For the tofu:
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
a fresh red chili, minced and to taste
1 package (200 g/7 oz.) firm tofu, drained
For the chard:
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
260g chard, cleaned and cut into small stripes
Place the sesame seeds in a pan and toast until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl that will be large enough to later toss the seeds and the tofu.
Combine water, soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, garlic, ginger, and chili if using. Whisk briefly.
Cut the tofu into bite size rectangles, about 1/2 cm (1/8 inch) thick. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Don’t add any oil. Transfer the tofu pieces to the pan and cook until golden brown, then flip and brown the other side.
Pour the marinade over the tofu and stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 2-5 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into the sesame seed bowl and toss.
Heat the same non-stick pan again and add oil. Fry the onion for about 2 minutes, then add garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the chard and fry until wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a plate and top with tofu.
Serve with lemon juice and hot sauce.