As I have written recently, I have been very enthusiastic about my gardening this spring, and this week I was able to make my first big harvest of the season. As Ray has mentioned in the past, I do all of my vegetable and herb gardening on my patio, and thanks to the sheer size of my Vegtrug, I am able to grow some very nice veggies. I planted Swiss chard seeds directly into the planter mid April, and here we are not very many weeks later, harvesting this delicious vegetable.
To be honest, until I met my husband Tom, I had never heard of much less eaten Swiss chard. He has always found that astounding. Swiss chard is a leafy green and member of the beet family that originates from Sicily. I think that would explain why his Italian American family grew up with a garden full of Swiss chard, and my English/Southern American upbringing was devoid of this green. I am certainly glad he set me straight!
When harvesting Swiss chard, remove a few of the largest outside leaves from each plant. New leaves will form and continue to grow. My sister-in-law Marie tells me she gets the entire summer from her plants in New Jersey. In my blazing hot climate, I do not, but until then, I will be able to harvest once or twice a week until the plants become overwhelmed by the heat.
There are many ways to prepare Swiss chard, but today I will share the simple method that Tom enjoys the most. First things first. Don’t throw away the stems! This is something that we have often seen on TV cooking shows and have to turn our heads away in horror! The stems are perfectly edible and delicious. Tom thinks the stems are the best part. They just take a few minutes longer to cook than the leaves.
Tom’s Simple Swiss Chard
1 Bunch of Swiss Chard
1/4 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. While water is coming to temperature, thouroughly wash Swiss chard. Separate the stems from the leaves. Chop the stems into two inch pieces. If the stems are very wide, cut them length-ways down the center. Roughly chop the leaves into 2-3 inch pieces. Place the stems only into the boiling water for about 5 minutes or until the stems are tender. Add the leaves to the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain the water. Toss the Swiss chard with Italian bread crumbs, olive oil and red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe is meant to serve as a guideline. As bunches of chard can vary in size, so can to amount of these ingredients. If you only have plain breadcrumbs add about a teaspoon of Italian seasoning and sprinkle in some garlic powder. Just don’t miss out on this wonderful vegetable and don’t throw out those stems!