I love growing chard (aka: Swiss Chard, Leaf Beet) it’s so easy to grow, and will cope with pretty much all weather meaning it’s a great crop for ensuring you’ve got something growing all year round. Chard is also pretty flexible, as you can either harvest mini leaves that can be used raw in salads, or when mature, giving leaves that can be used just like spinach (although Chard is actually more related to beetroot).
Chard comes in a variety of colours (I like to grow a variety called “Bright Lights” which is really a collection of different verities) as there’s something quite ornamental about seeing the different coloured stems standing proud in the veg patch. Being a cut-and-come-again type plant, a few chard plants will give you a little harvest every week or so. They also grow really well in pots, especially if you want to harvest as mini-leaves for salads.
This year I’m also going to try over-wintering a few plants, as they’re biennials, and should flower in their second year. Apparently you can use the flower stalks like sprouting broccoli, and I may try harvesting some of my own seeds!
Chard tastes like spinach and can be used whenever you might use spinach; the only thing to watch for is the stems! Chard stems take longer to cook than the leaves, meaning they need to be cooked separately. Just cut them away and add the, to the pan a few minutes before you add the leaves.
Chard works particularly sliced and added to a stir-fry, or in a curry. Getting the family to eat it on its own can be a little tricky, so that’s where this little recipe comes in handy…
- Chard, washed and stems cut away and leaves sliced
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 1 Clove of Garlic, finely chopped
- 6 Mushrooms, chopped
- Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the onions until starting to soften.
- Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Throw in the chard stems, and cook for around 2 minutes before adding the leaves.
- Cook until the leaves have wilted down, but stop before they go too soft!
This versatile little side dish works well with a roast dinner, and goes really well with some crispy potatoes.
What’s your favourite way to use chard? Let me know in the comments!