The garden's full of chard

I have a surprising bounty of ripe and ready rainbow chard in my garden at the moment and so keep cooking it in various ways.  Here are a couple of recipes to inspire you to cook with these beautiful leaves and colourful stems. Swiss or rainbow chard will do as well as beetroot leaves which I would always throw away before I knew better.

  1. First of all wash the chard in plenty of cold water and separate the stems from the leaves. If you hold the stem half way down in one hand you can use the other to strip away the leaves.
  2. Cut the stems into 2cm pieces and again either boil or steam these until soft, they can take between 5 and 15 minutes to submit depending on how tough they are.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Roughly shred the green leaves and then either steam or boil them until floppy.  Drain and set aside.

Chard stems in chilli and garlic
You can also cook the leaves or the stems in this way, just count on a couple of minutes cooking time instead of 10. This is great with roast meat or fish.
Heat about 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan and when hot throw in:-

  • a couple of crushed and peeled cloves of garlic (left whole it is less likely to burn and can be eaten or discarded later),
  • half a finely sliced red chilli
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

When all this is hot and you can smell the garlic, add the chopped and cooked chard stems.  Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook for 10 minutes.  Taste and season as necessary.
Chard leaves with cream and nutmeg
This works really well with spinach or beet leaves too.  Try it with grilled fish or roast chicken or accompanied by a poached egg.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan.  Squeeze the cooked leaves to rid them of excess water and roughly chop on a chopping board.
Fry the leaves in the pan and then add: –

  • 5 tablespoons of double cream
  • About half a teaspoon of fresh nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Stir through and cook for around five minutes until the cream has reduced a little. Taste and season as necessary with more nutmeg, salt or pepper.

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