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Swiss Chard and Tahini Dip

2 tablespoons pine nuts or slivered almonds

About 20 Swiss chard stems

Salt to taste

4-6 garlic cloves, peeled

½ cup tahini

½ teaspoon dried mint

Extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Olives, vegetable sticks and pita bread for serving


This recipe was printed in the 20 July Amherst Bulletin in Claire Hopley's "Table Talk" column. She says, "This recipe is closely based on one in Clifford Wright's Mediterranean Vegetables (Harvard Common Press). The author notes that this way of using up Swiss chard stems is typical of the cooking of Lebanon and Syria. The stems of red Swiss chard taste very strongly of beets; paler colored stalks are much milder. Prefer them for this if you don't like beets. On the other hand, if you are cooking for beet junkies, go for the red ones."


To toast the nuts, put them in a single layer in a ceramic microwavable dish. Toast for one minute then check. Depending on the power and your oven they might be ready. If not add more time in small increments so you don't overcook them. (Alternately, put the nuts in a single layer in an oven-proof dish. Put them in a 275 degree-oven. Toast for about 5 minutes or until they are golden-brown and aromatic. Check frequently to prevent burning.)

Cut the chard stems into 3-4 inch pieces and drop them into a pan of boiling salted water. Cook for about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and put them in the bowl of a food processor. Chop the garlic and add it, along with the tahini (which should be stirred to reconstitute it if the oil has separated). Also add the mint, a tablespoon of olive oil, half the lemon juice and a little salt. Process; scrape down the sides of the bowl; add the rest of the lemon juice; process again and taste. Season with more salt if necessary. Turn into a shallow bowl for serving. Drizzle more olive oil on top. Garnish with mint sprigs (or chopped mint) and serve with olives plus vegetable sticks and torn pita for dipping.

Recipe From: Claire Hopley's 'Table Talk' column. Mediterranean.