Since arriving in Yorkshire, I’ve been delighted to find some interesting ingredients that aren’t generally known in France. One such is chard which makes a colourful alternative to spinach. Most French people don’t know this versatile vegetable at all. So in celebration of British Food Fortnight (22 September-7 October), I thought I would share my chard recipe with you.
With its large succulent green leaves and thick crunchy stems, Chard is similar to spinach but with a stronger flavour. It can be white (Swiss chard), red (ruby or rhubarb chard), yellow or a colourful mix of all three (rainbow chard).
We grow the latter in our garden, planting it in March for harvesting from July onwards. ‘Cut and come again’ cropping, enables you to pick right through the summer and autumn. It is high in vitamins, A, K and C and rich in minerals, dietary fibre and protein.
A versatile vegetable that can be boiled, steamed, stir fried or roasted, the leaf and stalks should be cooked separately. After washing, strip the leaves from the stems and cut crosswise as they take longer to cook than the greens.
Alternatively, baby leaves are delicious tossed into a mixed green leaf salad. Chard works well with cheese, dairy, pork and spices.
Chefs Tip – add a pinch of barcabonate of soda to blanching water to help the stems retain their vibrancy.
Risotto with rainbow chard and crispy parmesan
– 250g Arborio rice
– 100g butter
– 250ml white wine
– 500ml water
– 150g grated parmesan
– 1 onion
– 3 tbs olive oil
– 1 bunch Swiss rainbow chard
Rinse the rice several times with cold water. Finely dice the onion. Separate the leaves from the stem on the chard and put the leaves aside. Take a tablespoon of butter and brown the chard stem – cooking them for a few minutes with a saucepan lid on. Repeat this process with the chard leaves.
In a saucepan, brown the onion with olive oil then add the rinsed and drained rice to the saucepan. Cook for a few minutes then add the white wine and cook until the rice has completely absorbed the wine. Add 250ml of water and repeat the absorption process. Repeat one last time with the remaining water. This process should take 17-18mns. Add 100g parmesan and the remaining butter.
Add salt and pepper.
In a non-stick pan, add the rest of the parmesan and cook to make parmesan crisps. Lay the risotto in a 10cm metal circle in the centre of a plate, place the chard stems on top and the leaves on the side. Add a parmesan crisp on top.