Friday, November 14, 2008

Chard, Potato, and White Bean Ragout*

We are in yet another heat wave here, so during the day, a meal of this sort feels untimely. Fortunately the heat fades with the sun, and by dinner time I'm ready for something warming. I found this recipe a few weeks ago in the chard section of the New York Times "Recipes for Health" collection, and finally got my act together to make it this evening. It is healthy and straightforward, if not fast, with the added virtue of being (mostly) frugal--appropriate for these lean times. The rind is a small luxury, but one that I recommend indulging in: it adds wonderful depth of flavor to a dish that might otherwise be a bit flat, and I almost always have a spare rind lurking in the cheese drawer anyway. If you don't have chard on hand, I assume that other cooking greens (maybe even collards!) would be just fine. If you do use another type of greens, be sure to adjust the the timing--you wouldn't want your beans and potatoes to go mushy before the greens cooked down properly.

* As I was about to publish this post, the Suitor came in and suggested that I use a title along the lines of "The Suitor Helped!" And in fact, he did. He was home sick today, and when I realized that I had forgotten to set the beans to soaking before I left for work, he was a dear and did it for me. So yes, in a rare and wondrous departure from the usual way of things, the Suitor actually helped me cook dinner.

Chard, Potato, and White Bean Ragout

From: New York Times, October 10, 2008
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
This comforting stew makes a hearty meal when served with a salad and crusty bread


  1. 1 cup dried white beans, soaked for 6 hours or overnight in 1 quart water
  2. A bouquet garni made with 1 bay leaf, a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, and a Parmesan rind, tied together with kitchen string
  3. Salt
  4. 1 generous bunch red chard (3/4 to 1 pound)
  5. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  6. 1 medium onion, chopped
  7. 2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), sliced
  8. 1 pound waxy boiling potatoes, such as Yukon gold, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  9. 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  10. Freshly ground pepper
  11. 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  12. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving


  1. Drain the beans and combine with 1 quart of fresh water in a casserole or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer. Skim off any foam, then add the bouquet garni. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. Meanwhile, stem and clean the red chard leaves in 2 changes of water. Rinse the stems and dice. Set aside. Cut the leaves in ribbons, or coarsely chop, and set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the onion and chard stems. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the potatoes and stir together, then transfer to the pot with the beans.
  5. Bring back to a simmer, cover and simmer 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and beans are tender. Salt to taste.
  6. Add the chard and thyme leaves to the pot, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The chard should be very tender.
  7. Stir in freshly ground pepper to taste and the parsley. Taste, adjust seasonings and serve, passing the Parmesan to sprinkle on the top.


  1. Advance preparation: The dish will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. If you are making it ahead, make it through Step 3 and proceed with Step 4 shortly before serving, so that the color of the chard doesn’t fade too much.


Brave Sir Robin said...

I saw this recipe, and it inspired my White bean and chard soup the other day.

Looks good.

Bee said...

I ALWAYS have a parmesan rind in the refrigerator -- and usually, more than one. BTW, I just tonight made a white bean and kale soup (with a ham hock, BSR) . . . which I borrowed from BSR, which he borrowed from here? So spread out as we all are, it's funny to think that we are all eating the same thing!

Supersaps said...

I got chard in my CSA box today -- I can't decide whether I should do this ragout or do the tequila-braised kale recipe (except with chard) you posted earlier. I have the ingredients for both (well...I used up all my white beans two days ago, so I would have to substitute another bean for this recipe).

Any recommendations?

Anne said...

Do you have enough chard to make both?

Of the two, the braised kale/chard with chickpeas is my favorite, but they're both good. Since you don't have the white beans, you might as well save the ragout for when you do. What do you think?

Supersaps said...

Bring on the tequila! :)

One more solicitation for advice: it turns out I have 1/3rd a cup of sun-dried tomatoes. (sigh) Would a few canned tomatoes be a good substitute?

Supersaps said...

(Oh yeah, I don't have enough chard to make both.)

Anne said...

You should be fine with the 1/3 cup of dried ones, actually. I don't think I've ever made the recipe with a full 1/2 cup, and it comes out tasting great. I wouldn't go lower than 1/4 cup, though, or you'll start missing out on the flavor.

I'd love to hear what you think of the recipe. It might be sort of weird at first, but I've ended up really liking it. Also: I think it improves with age, so it's good as leftovers!

Supersaps said...

I'll definitely let you know what I think --give me 24 hours. :)

Also, would you recommend Mezcal (a liquor similar to Tequila but with a smoky taste) over Tequila? We have bottles of both....

Anne said...

Interesting question! I've never tried Mezcal, so I don't know. Is it a strong smoky flavor?

Brave Sir Robin said...

Unless it's really good Mezcal, I wouldn't. It will dominate the dish.

Supersaps said...

Hmm, I think BSR is right...the Mezcal is good, but it might dominate the dish (the smokey flavor is strong).

Ok, I'll stick with Tequila! Thanks for all the advice. I'll report back in a few hours.

Supersaps said...

Oh! One more thing!

My neighbors (with whom we rotate our CSA pickup, and who share their larger CSA portion among a few people) are out of town for a few weeks, so we are getting many of their unwanted goodies, which means, I have another bunch of chard!

I'm going to pick up white beans at the grocery store tomorrow and give this ragout a go as well.

Supersaps said...

My (brief) report is in the other post now! I promise another one here in a few days.

Supersaps said...

Just wanted to let you know I made this ragout last week: I loved it!

The only problem I ran into was that a bit of my Parmesan rind melted into gooey bits in the beans (I didn't use a bouquet garni or scoop out the gooey bits). David wasn't a fan of the chunks of cheese that I left in the soup, and I'll probably do a better job of picking them out, or I'll tie up the cheese next time.

Anne said...

Yay, glad you liked this one, too! My rind disintegrated a bit, too, but I don't recall having chunks of cheese. I think the key is to make sure that you've grated off as much of the cheese as possible before you toss it in.

Supersaps said...

I think you're right, although I still had a bit of the same problem when I remade the dish today (we've been getting so much kale and chard as of late...), but it was easier to fish out as it mostly stayed in one piece.