Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yummy, yummy - 200 times yummy



I don't usually "do" recipes. But this is a special post. The Balcony Garden reaches 200 posts today, so I thought it was time to do something a bit different.

This winter I discovered Swiss Chard. I can't imagine why I'd never tried it before - I've seen it in the supermarket for years. Perhaps because the heads of chard always looked so big - and as I'm the only person in the family who will eat greens, buying large quantities usually means throwing half the stuff away.

But then I saw it in Germany, while we were there for Christmas. In Germany it's called Mangold. And that reminded me of mandrakes.

Now if you're a Harry Potter fan you'll know that
mandrakes are plants which are (in mythology) supposed to shriek when you pull them out of the earth. J K Rowling turns their roots into babies' faces as well. Of course, mandrakes are absolutely not connected to Mangolds except in my mind - which, every time I saw them in the supermarket, kept imagining the root under the base of the plant as a screaming baby.

So in the end I had to try them. And they have quickly zoomed to my number one favourite type of greens. I've not yet got round to planting any, but this article from The Guardian says chard can happily be grown in containers, so they're on my list. Chard likes limey conditions and is tolerant of heat and cold - ideal here. It's also a good container vegetable because you don't have to eat it all in one go. Harvest the outer leaves, and the younger, internal ones will keep on growing to give a second crop, and a third, and a fourth. Again ideal for balcony garden where space is at a premium, and large veg which are only going to provide one meal are sometimes a luxury you can't afford. There are different types of chard - some with red ribs, some with yellow - which I've not yet tried. But the white ribbed version is certainly not to miss.

So - here are a couple of recipes.

First of all, don't worry about having too much. Chard is like spinach. You cook an incredible quantity of raw leaves and they reduce down to a spoonful. And anyway it keeps - it's just as good the next day.

The basic recipe is dead simple. You can eat the whole thing, rib and all, or strip the green leaf from the central white rib. Wash the leaves well, cut them into small bits, and pop them into a saucepan with only a tiny amount of extra water - enough to cover the bottom of the pan but no more. Then add a bit of salt and dribble some good olive oil over the top. Cook over a low heat until the leaves "melt" down.

Like that, they're great as a vegetable to accompany a meat dish or to eat on their own. But for me, the best bit is using up the leftovers the next day as ...

Spaghetti with Gorgonzola and Chard


Gorgonzola Dolce has to be the cheese of the Gods. Don't confuse it with Gorgonzola Piccante, which is the older and much stronger version - similar to other blue cheeses such as Stilton.

Gorgonzola Dolce (dolce means "sweet") is soft and creamy with a mild taste. It's no more than two months old, and when out of the fridge for a while should be soft and runny. I could live on it.


Melted down over a low heat in a pan, then combined with some previously cooked chard, it's a wonderful sauce for spaghetti. (We exaggerated a bit with the cheese in the photo above - don't use half so much.)


And apart from the fact that it tastes wonderful, chard is also good for you. It's high in vitamins K, A and C as well as containing various other vitamins and minerals essential for health (see
here for a breakdown).

So - for our 200th anniversary, I haven't baked a cake. But if you want to celebrate with me - try some chard.



23 comments:

chaiselongue said...

That does sound yummy! I love Gorgonzola Dolce - we had some for lunch today. And we grow chard, so I'll try this soon. We often eat the stems steamed separately, whole, drizzled with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Then we eat the leaves as a vegetable, or in a tart with goats' cheese ... there are so many ways to enjoy chard! As you'll find, now you've discovered it. Congratulations on the 200th post!

muggle said...

Uhm, it does look delicious! :)
I've tried chard before when I was in Belgium. I don't eat meat, so this recipes is good for me. Ha!

nancybond said...

I love chard -- absolutely my favourite green. I'm going to try growing some Rainbow Chard in containers on the balcony this summer. Your recipe looks delicious!

Outside In said...

Oh that looks yummy, I'll have to try this recipe, thanks.

Jan said...

Swiss chard is wonderful stuff, although we didn't discover it ourselves until last summer when we grew some from seed. We are still cutting leaves from those plants.. in fact we had some this evening.. although they came to a standstill over the winter and then started growing again about a month ago. I've just sown some more seed, as I'm sure that the original plants will stop producing one of these days! Your recipe sounds wonderful and we shall try it.

Barbee' said...

Sue, congratulations for reaching that milestone! And, thanks for explaining about chard. I have never gotten up the nerve to try it, because I wasn't sure how to do it. And, thanks for letting us know it likes acidic conditions. My soil is so sweet I needed that bit of info. I think I will try your recommendation of growing some in containers.

Sue Swift said...

Barbee I'm so sorry - that was a cut and paste error. The sentence should read Chard doesn't like acid soil - it likes limey consitions.
Apologies - I've now changed the text.

Barbee' said...

Thank you, Sue, I have gotten the message. It should do OK here then. Thank you for the followup.

Chris said...

Happy 200th. I make a similar recipe using spinach. I look forward to trying it with chard this summer. Chard and cheese is a wonderful combination. I am growing three varieties this year. I am especially looking forward to growing one in containers called pot of gold.

Anonymous said...

Sue, love your blog. Found you when googling books on Balcony Gardening. I also live in Milano, my balcony is just coming to life, feel renewed!. A few days ago went through the process of buying a spiral hose with internal tap connector - hope I dont soak the dining room on the way through. Perhaps I am missing out on something special - but dont enjoy the endless filling of the watering can? Will key an eye for good ideas. Thanks. Erica

City Diggity said...

I will absolutely try the chard with gorgonzola! I, too, love chard. I like to buy the red-veined and the gold-veined and mix the two together. And thanx for letting me know you can grow it in containers. I may bring it to my balcony next year.

Louis said...

Thank you. I got very hungry to see your images.

RUPI said...

The way you write is very interesting for me. I love you blog

Scintilla @ Bell'Avventura said...

Hey, I do the chard from our garden with gorgonzola too! Only I make a risotto with it and mix the cheese in right at the end. Love it!

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

I will tell Kakdah about your recipe .... It really looks yummy. ~ bangchik

ConsciousGardener said...

Thanks for the recipe, I'm going to try it tonight! Here in Central Texas I grow "Bright Lights Swiss Chard" which is a mix of the red/yellow ribbed varieties and they are amazingly tough as they can thrive through our outrageous summer temps of over 100degrees!

Happy 200th birthday!

LadyLuz said...

Hi Sue

Thanks for the idea of the chard with blue cheese. I didn't know there was a sweet variety of gorgonzola. I shall have to go tasting the Spanish cheeses to find an equivalent.

Spanish cooks use the stems mixed with chick peas, garlic and tomato, hot or cold.

Scattered Gardener said...

We prefer chard to spinach. It's asier to clean (spinach can be gritty if you don't rinse it several times, chard only needs two changes of water) and it tastes slightly sweeter.
Happy 200th Sue and thank you for your posts, and continuing through winter while I took a break! Hope your Jerusalem artichokes are starting to shoot, mine have just some up a couple of inches on the allotment.

casalba said...

Happy 200th post. (I don't think you added too much gorgonzola - looks good just as it is.)

Scattered Gardener said...

You inspired me to add my own recipe for chard to my blog! Do drop in...

Anonymous said...

Now if you're a Harry Potter fan you'll know that mandrakes are plants which are (in mythology) supposed to shriek when you pull them out of the earth. J K Rowling turns their roots into babies' faces as well. And if you're a fan of mythology, you'll also know that mandrakes cannot become pregnant, hence the reference in John Donne's famous poem on the impossibility of finding a woman who is both beautiful and faithful. The first stanza (my italics for emphasis):

Goe, and catche a falling starre,
Get with child a mandrake roote,Tell me, where all past yeares are,
Or who cleft the Divels foot,
Teach me to heare Mermaides singing,
Or to keep off envies stinging,
And find
What winde
Serves to advance an honest minde.

Linda said...

So tempting! I'm a big fan of chard, having first discovered it through school lunches when I worked in France as an English language assistante. I'll try your receipe.

kimberly said...

I'm a recent rss subscriber to your blog and am catching up. I made something similar recently, but I also added some toasted pine nuts. Delicious!

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