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Harvest Monday: Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'

March 5, 2012

 

Swiss chard has become a new favorite winter vegetable. I use it interchangeably with spinach in recipes. It germinates more easily for me than spinach, is more attractive in the garden and has been trouble-free for both seasons I’ve grown it. The chard leaves sit higher above the soil than spinach, so it needs less washing.

I announced to Betsy, my gardening friend and neighbor, my intention to plant Swiss chard in place of spinach in the future. She reminded me I said that last year; and so I did. The spinach has languished. Maybe I should sow it more thickly and always use fresh seed. Or maybe next year I should just plant more Swiss chard–plenty to share with Betsy.

This weekend, I used the Swiss chard in a winter recipe I’ve made for years: Ground Beef Spinach Pilaf. My recipe card says from Sunset Magazine, but that was probably several decades ago.

The organic, grass-fed ground beef I chose is cooked with onions and seasoned with cinnamon. A mountain of chard strips added with ¼ cup water, wilted quickly. Raisins went in at the end and work nicely with the cinnamon.  I served it over long grain brown rice and garnished with toasted almonds.

How I love the winter garden!