I am growing loads and loads of swiss chard and have never grown or cooked this beautiful leafy green veg before. I wanted to grow this because it has such beautifully coloured stems - red, orange, yellow and white stems that billow dark green, spinach looking leaves. I haven't been successful in the past in growing spinach over here in the UK, so thought this would be a good replacement - I wasn't wrong!!!!
Swiss chard is from the beetroot family. It is like beetroot without the beetroot! It is jam-packed full of nutrients and great for a healthy diet - very low in calories. It is so, so easy to grow - sow seeds about three weeks before the last frost and they are pretty tolerant to warm weather. If you pick the leaves and leave the root, they will continually grow back, leaving you with plenty over the summer and autumn months. (I didn't know this, and have grown way too much, so let me know if you who live local to me want any!)
You can eat the leaves as well as the stalks - the stalks will have more flavour than the leaves. The leafy part of the green is tasty steamed, or sautéed with a bit of bacon, butter, onions or garlic. You can toss the steamed leaves with cooked pasta and a sprinkle of blue cheese, in place of spinach. It is also tasty added to bolognaise sauce.
Here are a few other Swiss chard ideas:
Add finely chopped Swiss chard to soups. Stir in the chard leaves right after you remove the pot from the heat. The greens cook quickly, so you do not need to leave them on the stove.
• Saute some chard leaves and add them to your omelette
• Substitute Swiss chard in vegetable lasagna-in place of spinach
• Toss blanched swiss chard with sautéed pine nuts and raisins for a light salad
Above all, give Swiss Chard a chance! You’ll be glad you did!
Here is a recipe I got from the Riverford Organic Veg website:
Grilled Leg of Lamb with Swiss Chard and Anchovy Gratin
"This is a dish we often serve in the Field Kitchen. The gratin is based on one in the lovely book A Table in Provence, by Lesley Forbes (Webb & Bower, 1987). Jane doesn't need much persuasion to add anchovies to anything, but the chard and anchovy work particularly well together."
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 leg of lamb, weighing about 2kg, skinned, boned and butterflied
(you could ask your butcher to do this)
For the stock:
juice of 1/2 lemon
a splash of white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf
a sprig of thyme
For the gratin:2 bunches of Swiss chard (about 500–600g)
a large knob of butter
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Mix together the garlic, rosemary, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil to make a marinade. Place the lamb in a large dish, pour over the marinade and leave at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight, turning the meat occasionally.
- To make the stock, put all the ingredients in a pan with 500ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and set aside.
- To make the gratin, separate the chard leaves from the stalks and blanch them in a large pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain well, refresh under cold running water, then squeeze out excess water. Set aside.
- Cut the chard stalks across into 5mm strips. Bring the stock to the boil, add the chard stalks and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Drain the stalks and set aside, saving the stock for later.
- Heat the butter in a pan, add the onion and cook gently for 15 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the anchovies, stirring until they dissolve into the mixture. Return to the heat and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook very gently for 5 minutes. Slowly stir in the reserved chard stock until you have a thick sauce. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Stir the chard stalks and leaves into the sauce, together with the grated Parmesan and some black pepper. Transfer the mixture to a gratin dish and bake in an oven preheated to 160°C/Gas Mark 3 for about 20 minutes, until golden.
- Remove the lamb from the marinade. Preheat a ridged griddle pan or a large, heavy-based frying pan and cook the lamb for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Transfer to a roasting tray and finish off in the oven at 200°C/Gas Mark 6 for a few minutes, depending on how pink you like your lamb. Leave to rest for about 10 minutes, then serve with the gratin.