Back in October 2014, I published a post entitled Waste Not! Repurpose. At that time I was exploring the idea of using as much of the ingredients I was working with as possible to cobble together something else worth eating and lessening the amount of my own household food waste.
Food waste and hunger are worldwide challenges and there is much to read about both subjects if you have an interest in learning more. Consider these two statistics that were motivation enough for me to find better, more creative ways to use my raw food or leftovers that might otherwise end up in the trash: The average American household throws away 300 lbs. of food per year; the average American household throws away $2,200 of food each year.
Factor in waste generated from the food service industry, the restaurant trade, and the grocery stores and it is clear that the problem still needs to be addressed.
You might say to yourself, “what can I possibly do to address a problem of this magnitude?” Well for starters, if more households made better use of the food they buy and consume each year, that would go a long way in addressing the problem. In the October 2014 post, leftover roasted squash was used to prepare a risotto dish and the leftover risotto was then used to make arancini. One meal’s ingredients building off another to fashion two additional meals–that’s just one example of how it works! Which brings us around to the sandwich of the day, or should I say open-faced sandwich, in this post.
Red chard stems, which in many instances are discarded, were sautéed with garlic and sweet onion, then paired with ricotta, and saba, atop a toasted slice of semolina boule to fashion a tasty open-faced sandwich that we enjoyed for lunch.
The red chard stems could have just as well been stems from green chards leaves or a mix from a batch of rainbow chard, while the bread could have been sliced from many different loaves. I was simply working with what I had on hand. The saba was added to provide a note of sweetness and make the topping just a little more interesting.
Saba is a reduction of unfermented grape juice (grape must) that can be found in many wine growing regions scattered around the Mediterranean rim. Saba also goes by the names of sapa, vin cotto, or mosto cotto. The concentrated sweet flavor pairs very well with roasted meats such as duck or lamb, strong cheeses, (Gorgonzola comes to mind), and some roasted fruits, (grapes for example). A little goes a long way and it adds a nice punctuation to whatever it is drizzled on.
Here is how this easy, quick-to-assemble, open-faced sandwich was put together.
Sandwich of the Day!
Ingredients (serves 2)
Stems trimmed from one bunch of chard leaves, minced
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
2 slices of rustic bread, toasted
2 to 4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
2 generous tablespoons saba
Mince and or chop the vegetables as noted.
Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the prepared vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until they are soft and lightly caramelized, stirring often.
Toast the bread and spread the ricotta evenly. Top the ricotta with the sautéed vegetables and drizzle the saba over the sauté. Couldn’t be easier!
So the next time you are using chard in one of your meals, don’t discard the flavorful stems. In addition to the open-faced sandwich described here, they can also be added to soups, stuffing, a frittata, or even pickled.
Remember, waste not, want not. I’d be interested to know what you repurpose next time in your kitchen.
Eat well. Be well.
“For you know one must be inspired to cook. Therefore, we always learn from others and end up teaching ourselves.” James Beard