Shopping for chard with Ceci’s chef Francesco Lucatorto

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Ceci’s chef/owner Francesco Lucatorto shops for Swiss chard for erbazzone, a dish which reminds him of his childhood. Photo by Shutterstock.

Market correspondent Ben Mims finds chef/owner Francesco Lucatorto of Ceci’s in Silver Lake. Lucatorto searches for the last Swiss chard of the season, which he describes as a sweet and minerally collard green. He mixes it with dandelion and parmesan encased in a thin crust to make erbazzone which reminds him of his childhood.

“The smell of this dish coming out of my grandma’s kitchen really excited me when I walked in,” he says. The regional specialty comes from Parma and Emilia-Romagna provinces of Italy. The sweetness of the chard, bitterness of the dandelion which is part of the chicory family, and the salty cheese, creates a balanced dish. He uses the stems of the chard as a filling for ravioli or a quick cold pickling. 

Julia Tamai of Tamai Family Farms says that chefs specifically request chard. The family has been growing produce for 50 years. With a variety of colors, the creaminess of the leaves can easily replace spinach in dishes, and the bottoms can be used in stir frys. The rule of thumb is the darker the color, the more nutritional value, she says.