When the alarm went off at 5:30 AM on Day 2 of our Rancho La Puerta stay, I silently hoped the night’s rain was still falling. Our casita was soooo cozy. Nope, the sky was clear. Travel buddy, Cathi and I had 30 minutes to get to the meeting place for sunrise and a 4 mile round-trip hike to the organic garden with a hearty breakfast promised, aka “motivation.”
We’d been to the beautiful garden the evening before for a cooking class at the La Cocina Que Canta. It was a rainy night, and trekking into the fields to gather greens was left to other classmates as I opted to take photos and roast my tush at the roaring fireplace. Guest chef and cookbook author Nani Steele, who penned Plum Gorgeous and My Nepenthe created a dinner menu that was garden-based, so much so that the only things in that night’s feast not produced on-site were the dairy, fish and wine.
Keep up the good work, Ranch Chickens!
Rancho La Puerta is a health and fitness spa in Tecate, Mexico. Round-trip from our home in Westwood, CA, I clocked 363 miles. Including the stop to pick up Cathi in Anaheim, the 3-1/2 hour drive was quick and only required a few minutes at the border to secure our Mexican Visas.
Of our meal that class, I plan first to recreate this Sautéed Chard with Garlic and Lemon for Larry – all fabulous “greens” including RED greens, with a spicy, tangy kick.
Sautéed Chard with Garlic and Lemon
Hands-On Cooking at Rancho La Puerta Visiting Chef, Nani Steel
- 2 large bunches Swiss chard, red or green or rainbow
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
- Pinch or two of dried chilies*
Thoroughly wash the chard and drip dry. Separate the leaves from the stems, discarding any dark ends, and chop into wide ribbons. Finely chop the stems, and then blanch in boiling salted water for 2 – 3 minutes until just tender.
Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Stir in the chard leaves, adding half at a time. There should be enough residual water on the leaves so that they slightly steam, if not, add 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until wilted. Pour off any excess water.
Return the pan to the heat. Add the garlic and oil, stir in the blanched stems, and sauté until the leaves and stems are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the chard to a serving bowl and squeeze lemon juice over top. Drizzle with a little more olive oil.
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.
*you can also mince a small, fresh pepper of your choice, just remember the seeds are the HOT part. Leave them in, or take them out to suit your heat sensitivity.