A Fine Romance
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If you’re like me, you get really excited when you first see it.

You walk out to the garden, hold your breath and – yes! Today is the day. The chard is ready for its first cutting!

You marvel at its colored stems. You love how simply it sautes up and pairs with your scrambled eggs. You love how within a few days its cut-and-come-again leaves are upturned toward your smiling face.

It goes on like this, for weeks, it seems.

IMG_0159And then, at some point…the romance starts to fade. You remind yourself that you’ve committed to four, five, maybe six chard plants, and it’s only June. You’ve got to stick it out and find some way to love it again.

Can I get an amen? I mean, chard is one of the loveliest of edible plants, if I had to choose one. And one of the most generous, as it gives and gives and gives of itself for a long season. But after awhile, I just don’t know what to do with it anymore.

My friend and kitchen mentor Dan showed me how to make these pickles a few years ago, when I had once again grown tired of sauteing it and using it in salads. It’s a great way to put those flashy stems on display and provide some variety when it comes to eating chard.

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Basic Pickling Liquid, taken from the Ad Hoc At Home cookbook by Thomas Keller:

1 cup champagne vinegar (we use white wine vinegar here, too)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
Group chard stalks into similar sizes, and pack them into a clean jar. Heat vinegar, sugar and water in a saucepan until dissolved, then pour over the chard stalks. At this point, we add hot sauce, maybe some celery seed too. It’s really fun to be creative and throw in whatever spices suit your fancy. Once the liquid has reached room temperature, put on a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for 24 hours before eating. Can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.

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Do you have any creative uses for chard! I’d love to hear them in the comments. Help me bring the romance back!

From my chard-lovin’, chard-hatin’ heart,

Brie

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About Brie Aronson

Brie Aronson came to Polyface from southern California. During college, she was diagnosed with food allergies and had to begin asking about the source of every single thing she put in her mouth. This led to an interest in all things food and she sought out a way to learn how it can be produced ethically and sustainably. Her desire is to help people shift their focus from counting calories, being intimidated by their kitchens, and being disconnected from the land to one that experiences the life-giving enjoyment of food. Having completed the internship in summer 2010, she now assists with the buying clubs and sales building, leads school tours of the farm, and will be the summer 2012 farm cook.
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4 Responses to A Fine Romance

  1. snowbird42 says:

    Chard salad that sound weird but is very good.
    Cut chard sideways like coleslaw. Add golden raisins and pine nuts. Dress with fresh lemon juice, oliveoil, s and p

  2. crayton says:

    Joy of Cooking’s Chard Tart. Simple, can be tweaked with any green, switching up the cheese, etc. Hot, cold, fresh or leftover breakfast lunch or dinner.

  3. Maria says:

    I haven’t planted chard the last two years because I got so sick of it the prior year. The only preparation that I miss is stuffed chard: heavily spiced ground meat sautéed with minced onion, celery and carrot, wrapped up in chard with uncooked rice and parsley, then simmered in tomato sauce until the rice is cooked through. But yes, I love the first of any garden produce. I harvested this year’s first cherry tomato last week and cut it onto tiny slivers so all four members of our household could have a taste.

  4. Mary Ann says:

    We gather masses of chard every fall, wash and remove the stems, then steam them until cooked. Then we cool them, and squeeze out the excess moisture and shape into patties and freeze. Then they live in freezer bags until needed. When thawed they can be chopped and used in quiche, or in a garlicky cream sauce, or with the ever-popular bacon, onion, and balsamic vinegar version. We love chard so much we quit growing spinach. The tender baby plants are wonderful in salads, the stalks go great in casseroles where I might’ve used celery, and the leaves are my favorite greens.