Swiss Chard Stalk Dip
Chard leaves and stalks are wonderfully different. One soft and tender, the other crunchy and fibrous. The leaves are wholesome raw, chopped into salads or juiced, and just as easily braised and sautéed with the benefit of citrus or garlic. They are quickly delicious while the stalks need a bit more time and attention to unravel their best flavor. I enjoy the stalks pickled, roasted, steamed or sautéed into stirfry. While these methods are better than just sending them onto the compost pile, consider this chard stalk hummus as a resourceful alternative.
The use of chard stalks as a hummus is somewhat common in mediterranean cooking. I came across the idea in Root-to-Stalk Cooking by Tara Duggan. Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Eastern Mediterranean and Clifford Wright's Mediterranean Vegetables also provide variations, among others.
I made this dip by replacing the chickpeas in favorite hummus recipe with steamed chard stalks, heavy on the tahini and garlic. I was pleasantly awed by the texture - it perfectly captures the creaminess of hummus. I'm still rapt in the memory of the garlicky lemon flavor.
Chard Stalk & Tahini Dip
Makes 3 cups of hummus
3 cups chard stalks, chopped
2/3 cup tahini
1 lemon, juiced
4 cloves garlic, smashed with skins removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
olive oil and pumpkin seeds for serving
Steam the chard stalks using a steamer pot. Add about an inch of water to the base pot, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Place chard in the steaming pot above and cover with a lid. Steam until the stalks are tender and soft, between 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Combine cooked chard stalks, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt in a food processor. Process until a thick paste forms. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water, then continue processing until the dip is smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate until ready to use. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, pumpkin seeds and dukkah (optional). Serve with vegetables and fresh pita.