Cypriot Chard Salad with Tahini Yogurt Sauce


We LOVE this "salad" that is really more like an appetizer or mezze. It's perfect when served with a few other small plates of goodies like pickled vegetables, maybe some lamb meatballs simmered in tomato sauce and some pita bread or sliced baguette to soak up every delicious morsel.  

This recipe is an oldie from Food and Wine Magazine, first published in 2004. We've made it A LOT since then and pretty much stick to it as is because it's a total winner but we've added our tiny tweaks that are time savers and don't change the flavor or awesomeness of the dish. Enjoy!!

1 medium red bell pepper (we toss these on the grill OR use already prepared roasted peppers)
2 pounds Swiss chard, leaves only, finely chopped (we always include the stems because they cook up to only have a slight crunch, they are good for you and who's got time to strip the leaves from the stem?)
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt 
1/4 cup tahini, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Roast the red bell pepper directly over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler, turning as needed, until charred all over. Transfer the pepper to a bowl, cover and let steam for 10 minutes. Peel and seed the pepper, then cut it into 1/4-inch dice.

Put the Swiss chard in a large colander set in the sink. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over the chard and rub it into the leaves with your fingers. Let stand for 1 minute, then rinse the chard and squeeze dry.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add 2 of the minced garlic cloves and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Swiss chard and cook, stirring, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the roasted red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the vegetables to a platter and spread them in an even layer. Let cool.

In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt with the tahini, lemon juice, and the remaining 3 minced garlic cloves. Season with salt. Spoon the yogurt sauce over the cooled Swiss chard.
In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat until the pepper begins to sizzle, about 10 seconds. Pour the pepper oil over the yogurt sauce. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.