Saturday, September 17, 2011

“Food in Due Season”—Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is one of my favorite vegetables. It is a type of beet that is raised for its leaves and stalks. I plant it in the spring for a continuous harvest throughout the summer and into the fall. It can also be planted in a greenhouse in the fall for a winter harvest.

If the green house is cold enough, the plants can then be transplanted in the spring and allowed to go to seed. Chard is a biannual plant. That means that its life span goes over two years. It must go through a cold period in order to go to seed. However, Ohio winters are too harsh for it to remain in the ground outside and survive. Chard will cross pollinate with beets and with other varieties of chard, so if you are raising it for seed only let one variety go to seed a year.

Chard is mild vegetable that works well in stir-fries and soups. Here is a soup recipe that I came up with from ingredients on hand and found quite tasty:

A Hint of India Soup

1 medium onion                                  2 T butter
8-10 Swiss chard stalks                       2 T oil
1 stalk celery                                       1 t turmeric
1 cup millet                                         ¼ t ginger
6 cups chicken broth                           1 T tahini (sesame paste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the chard leaves from the stalks and set aside. Chop the stalks into approx. ¼ inch slices. Chop the celery and onions. Heat the oil and butter, add chopped vegetables and millet. Fry until millet is turning golden and vegetables are tender crisp. Add the broth, and spices. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and allow to simmer for 25 minutes. In the mean time, chop up the chard leaves. Add the leaves during the last five minutes of cooking. Adjust seasonings to taste.

I suspect peanut butter would work in place of the tahini. There is something about millet that calls for a hint of nut.

“The eyes of all look to thee, and thou givest them their food in due season” (Psalm 145 [144]:15).

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