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Wednesday
Jun022010

The end of one crop, the beginning of another & what to do with all that Chard!

Early last fall, we put in a single row of Swiss Chard that was about 40 inches long. The little seeds eventually germinated and grew to be about an inch high where they seemed to stall. Like the enthusiastic gardeners that we are, we cheered them on, watered them, fed them and waited patiently for our first tastes of this crop. It seemed to take forever. Then, suddenly, it seemed, they were tall enough to harvest a bit. I began harvesting by cutting the plants to the ground, beginning at the front of the row. Each time we wanted chard, I cut just enough for our meal. When I reached the end of the row I assumed that that was it and moved on to other interests. 

By late January I noticed that the plants had doubled and tripled and were growing with a vengeance!. I began to selectively harvest the largest leaves for consumption and had enough to share with friends. 

Here is the Swiss Chard, ready to cut.  "Short row," I thought. "I'll just pull it, process it and be finished in 30 minutes." HA....

Cleaned, it covered the width of my kitchen counter. 

....almost ready to be blanched. 

Our little crop weighed in at 10 pounds after allowing for the weight of the towel we wrapped it in. 

Ta da!  Packages of chard ready for the freezer. 

Ok, little rainbow chard babies....you have some big shoes....er roots to fill. Get with it!

 

Cooking Swiss Chard:

I posted my favorite method for quickly cooking (or see the side bar"simple sides or the whole meal) here:http://marilynnergord.squarespace.com/journal/2010/2/11/simple-sides-or-the-whole-meal.html (sorry, the "insert link" tool seems to be on the blink)

Another longtime favorite recipe for greens is:

All purpose spinach (or chard, kale, etc) filling. Use it in vegetarian lasagna, stuffed under a chicken breast before cooking, folded into an omelette or rolled in a crepe and drizzled with Hollandaise sauce....

 

 5 # greens, cleaned, chopped, blanched in boiling water & drained well. 

1 large yellow onion

2 large cloves of garlic

2 TBL olive oil

1 TBL butter

1 1/2 # sliced fresh Crimini mushrooms

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1//2 cups fresh whole milk Ricotta

1/2 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg

2 + tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp pepper

(adjust seasonings to your taste)

1. Squeeze as much water as you can from the prepared greens & set aside

2. Add butter & olive oil to a large saute pan & heat until bubbling. 

3. Dice the onion & saute until translucent. 

4. Add the garlic & continue to saute about another minute over medium heat. (don't burn the garlic!)

5. Stir mushrooms into the pan & continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are cooked through,have given up their moisture & most of that moisture has reduced away. 

6. Add the greens & seasonings, stirring well. (you may want to remove this from the heat & wearing gloves, mix with your hands. 

7.Add in the cheese & stir well. 

Now, use this great mixture in one of the above noted applications, or tuck in into freezer bags and save it for future use!

 

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