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Swiss chard in your garden and on your plate

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Colorful stems and bright green leaves make Swiss chard the glamorous garden green as well as a delicious vegetable. Fortunately, it is easy to grow in the ground or in containers and is one of the few greens that can handle both cool weather and heat. In the fall, it grows well until killed by a killing frost.

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This vegetable is so beautiful that often it is used as edible landscaping, in containers, in flower beds and as accent plants.

Set out plants or sow seeds 2 to 4 weeks before the date of the last frost in spring. A spring planting will go on producing through spring, summer, and fall. Plants tolerate heat well as long as you keep them properly watered. Mulch applied around the plants will help keep moisture near the roots.

Begin harvesting outer leaves anytime that they are large enough to eat; the young tender leaves are the most tasty and make a colorful addition to salads. Allow the middle leaves to remain on the plant, as they grow then they too can be harvested. Cut out the midrib of larger leaves before cooking or chopping into salads. Chop large leaves to cook down like spinach, or use in casseroles, soups, and pasta.

Whole harvested leaves will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks in a loose plastic bag or sealed container.

Seed Savers exchange offers four different Swiss chard varieties. Their website is www.seedsavers.org. Botanical Interests offers five varieties, here is their website http://www.botanicalinterests.com.

Here are some delicious ways to use Swiss chard.

Swiss chard pasta

1 pound linguine

1 pound bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 very large red onion, halved, sliced (about 6 cups)

2 large bunches Swiss chard, stemmed, chopped (about 12 cups)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Cook linguine in boiling salted water until tender, stirring occasionally. Drain, but keep 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  • Cook bacon over medium heat until beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain on paper towels to remove grease.
  • Drain all but 2 tablespoons bacon drippings from skillet.
  • Add onion and garlic, saute over medium-high heat until softened.
  • Add Swiss chard and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Add pasta cooking liquid to skillet.
  • Toss until chard is wilted and tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Sprinkle vinegar over; cook 1 minute.
  • Add linguine and oil to sauce in pot and toss to coat.
  • Transfer to large bowl.
  • Sprinkle with bacon and cheese and parsley.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Quiche with Swiss Chard and Mushroom

3 large eggs


1 cup heavy cream


4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped


1/4 cup finely chopped red onion


2 tablespoons butter


5 ounces Swiss chard leaves (no stems), chopped


salt and black pepper to taste


5 ounces Gouda cheese, shredded


1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces


Dash nutmeg


1 prepared pie crust dough

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Beat eggs with heavy cream in a small bowl.
  • Place pie crust in a deep-dish glass pie plate.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a saute pan and cook mushrooms and onion until browned.
  • Season vegetables to taste with salt and pepper and stir in chopped chard leaves, cooking to wilt; cool mixture.
  • Sprinkle about 2 ounces of the cheese in the bottom of the pie crust and spread vegetables over that, then top with remaining cheese.
  • Pour the cream and egg mixture over all.
  • Make sure the cheese and vegetables are covered.
  • Dot with butter pieces and sprinkle with nutmeg.
  • Bake quiche uncovered, in a preheated oven, for about 45 minutes or until puffy and set.
  • Allow to sit undisturbed for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
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