Unleash the chard!

It’s about time we let you in on some secrets. Chard secrets. This veg has been rocking our world for quite some time and it is so versatile. So we thought we’d give you some tips and basic recipe ideas for how to use our lovely rainbow chard.

To start let’s talk anatomy, plant anatomy that is, stems, midrib and leaves. The stem is straight forward, the midrib is the extension of the stem in the middle of the leaf, still firm and coloured in chard and the leaves are of course the fleshy, often green bit. You can use the chard leaves and stems and midrib as separate veggies or as one veg. Some people use the whole stem like asparagus, we’ve enjoyed the stems blanched as dippy sticks for eggs and soldiers or to go with poached egg.  The stems also lend themselves well to being chopped in pasta dishes, left quite crunchy in stir fry or softened in butter for a whole range of dishes.

Often we’ll just chop the stems quite small and the leaves larger and fry in some butter and garlic and serve as a flavoursome green side. To get it all cooked to the right level start frying the stems first then add the leaves just before the end.

Our favourite dishes which use all of the scrumptious rainbow chard leaves include:

Cheat’s pizza
This is a puff pastry dish which has all the flavour of Mediterranean food but the yummy comfort feeling of British cuisine. It’s quick and easy, perfect for emergency dining.

Cheats pizza ready to go in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • Block of puff pastry
  • 5ish stems of rainbow chard
  • Small onion or a couple of shallots
  • Pesto
  • Feta or goats cheese
  • Vegetable stock/chicken broth
  • Sunflower oil/butter
  • Sea salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Finely chop the onions or shallots and gently fry in oil or butter.
  3. Mix up just 100ml of veggie/chicken broth.
  4. When onion is softened lay the whole chard leaves in the pan, ensuring the stems are fully inside the pan. Pour
  5. on the stock. Fry for only a few minutes so that the stems are tender.
  6. Roll out the puff pastry and put in a lightly oiled/ baking tray. Brush a small amount more oil on top of the
  7. pastry then a good slop of pesto spread round.
  8. Carefully lay the whole chard leaves on the pastry then add the shallots and chopped or crumbled cheese.
  9. Season with salt and pepper. You may like to add oregano or thyme too.
  10. Bake for about 20minutes, until the pastry is puffed and going golden brown.
  11. Serve up with some Real Food Garden salad, grated beetroot and maybe a serving of buttered broad beans.

Chard and Chickpea Curry

Another easy but flavoursome dish which is packed with all the ingredients for a healthy meal.

Ingredients:

  • Large onion
  • Garlic – at least 2 cloves
  • Ginger – 5cm long peice
  • Coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric, chilli powder or curry powder
  • Red pepper
  • 8ish rainbow chard leaves (with stems)
  • Can of chickpeas
  • Can of chopped tomatoes or 5ish large fresh tomatoes
  • Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat a little oil in a large, heavy bottomed frying pan
  2. Chop the onion, grate the ginger and garlic (add more garlic if you’re keen on it, we are very liberal with garlic, it is medicinal after all!)
  3. Add your curry powder or mix of spices with a little extra oil and stir, now its smelling amazing!
  4. Fry until softening and creating delicious aromas.
  5. Meanwhile chop the red pepper and chard stems.
  6. Add these in to fry, keep stirring.
  7. Roughly chop the chard leaves into ribbons.
  8. Add the chick peas and cook for a couple of minutes.
  9. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes so everything is mixed and hot.
  10. Add in the chard leaves just a couple of minutes before you are ready to serve with rice, naan or lentils.
  11. Salt and pepper to taste, mmm, curry night here we come!

Chard and Bacon/Broad bean Fritatta

So it’ll come as no surprise that here at the Real Food Garden we are vegetarian but we are fully behind the responsible and modest enjoyment of healthy, ethical meats so this dish can be veggie or carnivorous, take your pick. Serve with some potato salad and salad leaves or left over roasted veg.

Ingredients:

  • At least 6 eggs, yes we recommend free range and organic, they taste better and leave a lighter ecological footprint
  • One medium onion or a couple of shallots
  • Garlic – two cloves will suffice
  • 8ish full chard leaves, stems an’ all
  • 8ish pods of broad beans, podded OR some bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces
  • some double or single cream, milk will do if neither is available
  • A squeeze of tomato puree
  • A little sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Fry up the chopped onion, adding the chopped chard stems when the onion is slightly softened.
  2. Meanwhile pod the broad beans or chop the cooked bacon.
  3. Add the broad beans /bacon with a little butter and salt and pepper if you like.
  4. Chop up the chard leaves into quite small pieces and add them in when the broad beans have had 4/5 minutes.
  5. Cook, stirring for a few minutes until the chard leaves have wilted.
  6. Put the grill on to heat, at around 160 degrees
  7. Mix up the eggs with a dash of the cream or milk.
  8. Add in a squeeze of tomato puree and stir.
  9. Add the egg mix evenly into the pan and cook on a low/medium heat for around 5 minutes or until only the top
  10. layer of egg is uncooked.
  11. Place under the grill to cook the top layer of egg for a few minutes until beginning to go golden brown.
  12. Serve with your choice of sides and enjoy.

So go on, get in the kitchen with chard! And don’t forget to share recipe and pictures on our facebook page.

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