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Five things to do with Swiss Chard

December 6, 2011

This year I have developed a profound respect for the vegetable Swiss Chard.

When I got given some Swiss Chard seedlings back in March for my birthday (plants are an awesome and inventive present!), my initial thoughts were “Oh great…I’m going to be stuck with eating loads of a vegetable that I don’t really like” – what an ungrateful madam I was!  When the leafy stalks started getting big in May and June, my first action was to snip them off and give them away to my Dad and brother Chris, on the basis that they’ll eat anything.  I was amazed at how quickly more stalks grew back… A bit like when they chop off the beast’s tentacles in some greek mythological film and a new one grows back immmediately – only not so quick.

I cut some more a couple of weeks later and decided I’d give them another taste myself – after all, I was judging them on a memory I had of eating wilted Chard about four years previous.  I’d read somewhere that you needed to cook the stalks longer than the leaves, so I separated the two and approached the dish a bit like I would if I was making buttered spinach.  The result was delightful…buttery, irony and a really rich intense flavour.

After that, I started to get a little excited about my Swiss Chard, as it’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Every time you cut it back, some more will grow.  And unlike many other greens and  salad leaves, when they bolt, your crop isn’t ruined…you just cut them back and they start growing again.  And then there is how beautiful it looks.  With different coloured stems of yellow, pink, red, white and orange, it’s like a rainbow has falled out of the sky and landed in your garden.  This means that it doesn’t look out of place in either a vegetable bed or in your flower bed.

So here are five ways I have discovered to cook using the Swiss Chard, giving delicious results every time.  If you’ve not got access to any Swiss Chard, why not get yourself a couple of plants – it will keep on growing throughout the winter…

1. Buttered Swiss Chard

2. Swiss Chard, Onion and Gruyere Tart – a recipe from Olive Magazine that can be found on the BBC Good Food website.  I’ve followed the recipe as it is and also done a slight variation using strong cheddar instead of the gruyere.  Both worked well.  I also make my own pastry when I have the time – it makes the recipe even cheaper to produce.  It’s delicious eaten warm or at room temperature and lasts for a good few days, so makes an excellent option for a picnic or packed lunches.

3. Pasta with Sausage, Pancetta and Chard

4. Chard, Tomato and Ricotta Bake – another recipe from Olive Magazine and the BBC Good Food website, I find this bake tremendously easy to make. You can make it as one bake or, as I’ve done in the past, do individual portions which makes it great for work lunches.

5. Easter Pie.  Not a recipe I can post because it’s not online, but I can at least point you in the right direction, which is page 188 of The Silver Spoon.  Or at least it is in the version I’ve got (I’ve noticed that they’ve recently released a new version with more pictures for the less confident cooks amongst us).  If you don’t own, or have never seen sight of this wonderous book, I would strongly urge you at least take a look at it.  According to its own introduction, it ‘is the most successful cookery book in Italy, the book that has its place in every family kitchen, the one that many brides have received as a wedding gift’.  But back to the Chard.  So, this pie is made from puff pastry, eggs (which is where I assume it gets its name), lots of chard, ricotta cheese and cream, amongst other things.  It’s a bit like a quiche, I guess, on completion.  Another one that tastes as good, if not better, served cold.  And it makes so much that I ended up taking packed lunches in for at least four of my colleagues on the day after I had made it.

So there you have it.  Five things to do with Swiss Chard.  I’d love to hear what other people do with it if you are willing to share you recipes…

  1. Swiss Chard is amazing! Healthy, cheap, and delicious…and to top it off, it’s actually kind of pretty! My blogger in crime, Emilie, has a vegetable garden with her mom. Needless to say I got a lot of chard (and tomatoes!) this past year. ~Ruth

  2. Thank you for sharing this.
    It is very interesting.

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