I love chard. It's easy to grow, looks beautiful on your plot or in your garden and really starts to come into its own at this time of year as other summer crops are starting to come to the end of their season.
It's mainly sown in the spring for picking over the summer, although by protecting the crop with a cloche, leaves can be harvested during autumn and winter. It's also a pretty unfussy crop - so long as it is planted in a relatively rich, moisture retentive soil in a sunny or slightly shaded spot it'll do just fine. It's also a great cut and come again crop so if you just take the leaves that you want to use it'll continue being productive right the way through the season.
My love for chard was reinforced further when I tried this delicious recipe for Chard and New Potato Curry which is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingtall's latest book- Veg Every Day. Hugh's version of this curry is great but here's my own, slightly modified version which I think works even better!
- About 500g Swiss chard
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 onion, halved and finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 3cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 cardamom pods, bashed
- 350g new potatoes, quartered
- 200ml smooth passata
- A small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground
- black pepper
Separate the chard leaves from the stalks. Cut the stalks into 2–3cm pieces and roughly chop the leaves.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and fry until just golden. Meanwhile, pound the garlic, chilli and ginger together with a pinch of salt to a paste. Add to the onion and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Tip in the rest of the spices and stir for a minute or two.
Add the potatoes and chopped chard stalks and fry, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, so that they are well coated with the spice mixture. Pour in about 200ml water and 200ml of passata – enough to just cover the veg. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10–12 minutes until the potatoes are just tender. Add the chard leaves, stir and cook until just wilted.
Remove the curry from the heat and stir in most of the coriander.
Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Scatter remaining coriander, then serve with rice and naan or chapattis.