Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Volunteer

There it was, sandwiched between the Martha Washington geranium and the Santa Barbara daisies in my garden, the Swiss chard plant that has lived here for three years now. The first year, it was only leaves, which we enjoyed almost weekly. The second year, it was less vigorous but still, despite the snails, produced several perfect leaves per week. Then, last fall, it flowered - a six-foot tall inflorescence covered in minuscule whitish flowers, not at all pretty but wonderfully strong, ribbed and tall. After it flowered, I whacked it down, figured that was it for my bi-annual Swiss chard.

But, no! Here it is again, a little battered by the winds of time and the trampling of the puppy next door, still offering lovely green leaves for us to cut and enjoy.

I was so impressed that I trimmed the sad leaves and left it to grow unmolested. I even put stakes next to it to discourage the puppy. We still get a meal or two a month from this wonderful volunteer, long may it wave!

What's your favorite way to serve Swiss chard? I need some good recipes to honor this noble plant.

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7 Comments:

Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Might not be to your taste, but you could cut the leaves in half lengthwise and remove the rib, then fill them with some Eastern European meat-rice mixture. Roll em up. Cram in a pot, roast or simmer. Tomatoes, broth. (I just made myself hungry!)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, I like that idea and it's timely, too. Got a pot of rice on now and we're having burgers for dinner so I'll have enough ground beef left over to play with your idea tomorrow. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010  
Blogger namastenancy said...

Since the weather has turned chilly, how about chard gratin? I got this recipe from some European source (hence the measurements) but I never bother to measure, just adjust to my own sense of taste. The recipe says it serves three but I've had it as a main dish and eaten the whole darn thing!

Chard gratin

500g chard

2 small cloves garlic

a little butter

400ml double cream

grated Parmesan

Remove the leaves from the chard. Keep them separate. Cut the stalks into short, manageable lengths then cook them in boiling, salted water. They should be almost tender in about 5 minutes. Drain them thoroughly and set aside.

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Put a small amount of water back on the heat, salt it lightly and add the chard leaves. They will need barely a minute or two, no more, to be tender. Drain them thoroughly then leave to cool a little.

Peel and finely slice the garlic. Butter a shallow baking dish, about 20cm in diameter, then scatter the garlic over the dish. Wring the chard out, making certain there is no water left (the leaves can be damp but not wet), then layer the leaves and stalks in the buttered dish.

Season the cream with a little salt and black pepper and pour over the vegetables. The amount in the original recipe didn't cover the chard but I add a bit extra. Why not?

Cover the top with grated Parmesan and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the Parmesan is golden. Serves 3 as a side dish. Or one if you have a hearty appetite. Or two if you serve it with meat as a main dish.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, sounds like another winner. Can you beat double cream and parmesan cheese? Wow.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010  
Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

Mr Brown and I both had traumatic childhood experiences with silverbeet (aka chard). I reintroduced us to it a few years back with this http://dancingmorganmouse.blogspot.com/2006/02/at-last.html

Thursday, September 09, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Ms Mouse, interesting name, "silverbeet" - I wonder if that means there's a beet-like root underground - and maybe the root is tasty, too. The recipe you sent me to is amazing - what a strange combination of ingredients to end up tasting good. Must try.

Thursday, September 09, 2010  
Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

Zoomie, it's kind of custardy, bread puddingy with a touch of mineral green :)

Friday, September 10, 2010  

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