Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'

Adding a crop of Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' makes a dramatic statement in a veggie garden of any size. Stalks of vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges are neon exclamation points amongst peppers and tomatoes. Mine are growing next to my 'Falstaff' purple Brussels sprouts (stay tuned for their harvest). The chard can also be planted in between perennials for color that will remain through the summer.

These do well with a deep watering every other week. If they are neglected a little and start to wilt, watering will spring them back to life. My soil isn't extremely rich as I haven't composted in 2 years but it is light. The only issue is slugs. They don't completely decimate the plants, but they do make unsightly holes and trails in the leaves. I just remove the chewed up areas and use the petioles (stalks) for cooking. The petioles stand up to sautéing and have more flavor than the leaves.

My usual recipe for 'Bright Lights' Swiss Chard calls for 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 cloves (or more!) of minced garlic, Kosher salt, chili flakes, and 5 stems of chard roughly cut. Heat up the skillet on high and add oil once it's hot, coating the pan. Reduce heat to medium and sauté the garlic until it just starts to brown. Add the chard, a couple pinches of salt, and a splash of water. Sauté until the chard is semi-tender or the leaves start to wilt. Remove from heat and serve. Other additions to this dish maybe a small squeeze of lemon juice or a reduction of balsamic vinegar with toasted almond pieces and goat cheese.

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