Friday, August 19, 2011

Oh so easy

Among the easiest vegetables to grow in our vegetable garden are blettes (Swiss chard). I plant the seeds and they grow. I do tend to plant the seeds too close together when I plant in the ground. I'm afraid they won't all sprout or something. So when they all come up, thinning and transplanting are in order. But aside from that, these things just grow.

Sauteed chard leaves (without the stems) ready to be added to the final dish.

They can get close to two feet tall, which is way past time to pick them, but they're still good. And I can pick each leaf independently, which means that the plant stays in the ground and puts up new leaves for later harvests. It's the leaf that keeps on giving. Like rhubarb. Except, unlike rhubarb, the stems are good to eat.

In fact, some people eat only the stems. But we like the leaves, too. I normally separate the leaves from the stems and we use them differently. For example, the leaves you see here were lightly sauteed in olive oil, then added to a dish of spicy chick peas for a variation of espinacas con garbanzos (thanks to this guy for the inspiration). Ken used the stems the next day to make a gratin, a simple dish of the cooked stems with a béchamel sauce and some cheese browned in the oven.

Blettes are often used just like you would use spinach. But the leaves are tenderer than spinach, and their flavor is milder and sweeter. The stems aren't tough or stringy when cooked, but are tender and tasty.

Many people around where we live include blettes in their annual garden. This is the second time for me, but I see them becoming an annual staple for us, too.


  1. I cook my Swiss chard like this, except that I use only four anchovy fillets (or to taste). I couldn't believe how delicious it was, and I don't even like anchovies.

  2. I'm really going to have to look into this whole Swiss chard thing :) Sometimes, we get so used to eating what we grew up eating, we ignore other things that are out there.

  3. Wish chard would grow here in Alabama. I should try it as a fall crop perhaps.

  4. Not a veg I have ever eaten but as I adore baby spinach and things au gratin I think will give it a go.

  5. I always found the talk about "humidity" in France to be funny. They need to come to South Florida in July and August. Then they'd know what humidity is all about.

  6. Have you tried the brightly colored (red,yellow, and green) stemmed swiss chard? It is widely available at our markets here. Good source for nutrients. You, two, must have excellent numbers when you have bloodwork done!

    Mary in Oregon

  7. I let ours go to seed so it sows itself now. The leaves are excellent for keeping macular degeneration at bay. It copes very well with hot weather, which ordinary spinach does not.

  8. buddybear, that does sound good. I'm with you, I need to cut the anchovies down in recipes, otherwise it's too strong of a taste (and too salty).

    judy, oh, they're delicious! Have you never had them?

    evelyn, worth a shot!

    n&a, they are much milder than spinach.

    starman, oh, I know. But it's funny how when you're not used to that kind of humidity, a little bit is very noticeable. You'd call it almost dry! lol

    mary, yes, but with not much success. The plain ones seem to grow better.

    susan, that's cool. Are they in the potager or in your back garden?

    alan, mmmmm, they are!

  9. Hey Walt the Fourth! I love this. So glad to have inspired someone in the kitchen. That has got to be a first!

  10. mitch, it's a delicious dish, and this was the second time I made it since you posted about it.

  11. But my blog did NOT inspire you to make Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with bacon bits. I don't get it. Really, I'm glad you're enjoying the dish!


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