Bietola

Wild chard grows all over Prusch park, and Amie asked me to cook some today. Did you know that chard and beet are the same species? Hence the Italian name for chard in the title. It’s also the same species as the mangelwurzel (which, to be honest, is really a large beet, anyway) and is called “silverbeet” in Australia. I can’t tell you why people say “Swiss chard,” though.

Anyway, I arrived an hour or so late to the farm, and Amie immediately went off to pick a peck of chard. Or maybe more than a peck. It was a lot.

I had half a onion from home, which I started frying in olive oil, while I cut the stems from about a third of the chard, and then sliced the stems thinly. I added them to the onion, and then set to stripping the stems from the rest. People often throw away the stems of leafy greens, but they are perfectly edible. They just need to cook longer. But I was afraid that I’d fill the entire pot with chard stems before I got a chance to cook the leaves, so I only used the first third. I added minced garlic, salt, pepper and chili powder, and then after a while, raisins.

When the stems were tender and a bit browned, I added the chard leaves, cut into strips. I managed to get the whole lot into the pot, although it took a while. But it cooked down to maybe just a third of the pot when it was all done. I toasted some pine nuts and fried bread crumbs in more olive oil as a garnish.

And it all got eaten up, which is always very gratifying. Lunch also featured Sean’s wonderful olives, which he made at a workshop at Hidden Villa last week.

I wish I had know about it. But I will be revisiting Mission San José next weekend, to pick up some olive oil made from the mission’s own olives.

One Response to “Bietola”

  1. akabini Says:

    How do you always manage to fit such great *words* in your entries?
    Mangelwurzel! (‘The Root of Lack’? Perky folk, us Germans.)

    I love the raisins in the chard dish – with breadcrumbs on top? Fab.

    Chard is a staple at our house – I cram it it every dish I can.
    It’s the last entry in our house-staple lentil soup.

Working to build a local, sustainable food system in San José