Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sautéed Chard Stalks With Sweet Peppers And Yacón

Ever heard of Yacón? Neither had I until a few weeks ago. Farmers market supplier, Jacques Neukom had a display of what looked like potatoes, or maybe a new strain of Jerusalem artichoke, it was hard to tell. As it turns out, they were tubers that grow high in the Andes Mountains of Peru and are distantly related to sunflowers.
Botanically named Smallanthus sonchifolius, Yacón has a taste that's a bit like a crunchy sunchoke or a water chestnut, with a wonderfully juicy sweetness. It can be eaten raw, sautéed in stir fries, or roasted with other root vegetables. Because this Yacón is grown organically and locally, we're going to use it as a substitute for water chestnuts in this year's Thanksgiving stuffing. A colorful dish like the one offered here wouldn't be a bad idea either.

The sugars in Yacón seem to have a low impact on diabetics and studies are currently underway to determine just what the long term health benefits may be and how the food industry might capitalize on these low glycemic sugars.
For now, I'm happy to put them into stir fries, such as this offering of rainbow chard stalks, a mix of homegrown peppers, farmers market onion and garlic. A little kosher salt, a small amount of freshly ground black pepper, and a sprinkle or two of golden balsamic vinegar finishes this dish. No further embellishments needed.

Remember when I admonished you to not toss out your chard stalks? With good reason. First, what a great waste! Second, chard is listed as one of the world's healthiest foods and its stalks are very, very good for you as well, and they are in season right now. So, c'mon, put a little green, yellow, pink, red and orange in your life and on your plate.

Christine's Stir Fried Chard Stalks with Peppers and Yacón
Christine's original recipe
22 rainbow chard stalks, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
4-5 garden peppers of any sweet kind, chopped (You can throw in a jalapeno if that suits you)
2 medium Yacón tubers, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, medium dice
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil for the pan
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium high. Add the minced garlic and onions and saute until softened.
Add the peppers and chard stalks and saute for about 3 minutes more.
Add the Yacón, stirring it into the rest of the vegetables, reduce the heat to medium low and allow to cook until everything is nicely tender, about 10 minutes more.
Don't overcook or you will loose the beautiful colors.
Season to taste with kosher salt and a few grindings of black pepper and serve.

Fast, simple, local, organic, healthy. What more could you ask for?

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. Stunning colors Christine. So beautiful. How I would love to try this dish . . . it's difficult from a motel room. You've convinced me I need chard stalks!!! and these new (old) tubers Yacon!

  2. Sounds interesting. Never heard of this before but will watch for it!

  3. This looks great. I've never seen yacon before, but if I can get my hands on some I'll be sure to cook it.

    I love re-using the chard stalks. Not only are they healthy, but they stretch out the food budget by getting an extra dish out of the chard. Plus, the pretty colors are likely to appeal to kids who would rather not eat vegetables.

  4. I'm sure there will be lots of chard, and their stalks, available when you get back in your kitchen, Tanna.

    I think you will like it alot, Kalyn.

    Thanks Fearless.

  5. I worked on chard stalks yesterday as well. I have seen people asking the vendor to chop them off: I wanted to scream. Thanks for the interesting information on yacon.

  6. Yes, Simona, the guy with the giant chard leaves told me the same thing. Amazing! And so dismaying.

  7. I was looking at the colors and imagining the wonderful fiber this dish provides - and then I got to thinking, what root vegetable could I use as a substitute for Yacon? Sweet potato? Rutabaga?

    Thanks for the education, Christine.

  8. Hi Mimi, I think if you want to use something that would come close to yacon, it would be sunchokes or jicama. I've actually put jicama in stir fries with great success. I'd love to see what you come up with!

  9. Hallo Christine, thank you for visiting my blog! I see that you have a pretty cooking blog here! Love the vegetables and the organic things!

  10. Thanks so much, Maria. I'm glad you like it.

  11. Thank you Cynthia. I've been lax in visiting your blog. I will remedy that soon, I promise!

  12. Wow you really are coming up with some new finds. Looks delicious too. I don't suppose we will be able to get it across the pond. Next time I visit our Asian supermarket in Brighton I will look out for it.

  13. Good luck with finding yacon, Anne. I've heard they are growing it in Europe.

  14. I've never had any of this before. I love all the colors. That would definitely entice me to taste it. ;-)


  15. Hi Paz. Chard stalks are so easy to prepare and so good for you. Give them a try, I'll bet you will like them.

  16. Thanks for the tips about the stalks, Christin. I usually just toss mine. I won't have to do that now, though!

  17. Hi Susan - Wait until you see the chard stalk soup I've got waiting in the wings!


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