Monday, 19 October 2009

Bright Rainbow Swiss chard bundles

Colourful thick stems and bright green peacock leaves make chard one of the most glamorous ornamental garden greens you will ever see.
Chard has a tendency to wilt, perhaps this is the reason you won’t find chard in the supermarket, but you might just get lucky and see some at your local greengrocers, before its gets limp of course. If you really want to try this nutritious stem vegetable, my advice would be to grow our own, in the border or even in pots, it is such as beautiful plant that adds a splash of rainbow in the garden. It is one of the few greens that can tolerate both cool weather and the heat, and for this reason you will find it lingering in the garden around spring, when all other vegetables have gone, as well as supplying nourishment. I recently read, areas that never experience harsh colds, chard sometimes behaves like a perennial, living for several years. Anyway, like all vegetables, chard does best with an even supply of water. Water plants regularly, especially in summer, as drought-stressed plants may bolt, or flower. Mulch with compost, finely ground leaves, straw or ground bark to keep the soil cool and moist as well as keep weeds down. Other than being attacked by slugs, I have personally found chard plants generally problem free.
Chard is a very versatile vegetable, you can begin harvesting outer leaves as soon as they are large enough to eat; or even when they are still small as young tender leaves are the most flavorful and make a colorful addition to salads. Cut out the midrib of larger leaves before cooking or chopping into salads. Chop large leaves to cook down like spinach or in casseroles, soups, and pasta. Unlike ordinary spinach, chard holds it shape well.

I am fortunate this year, as I have an abundance and a wide variety of chard growing both in my small garden plot and at the allotment. There is perpetual spinach, swiss chard, silverline chard, rhurbarb chard, oriole chard, rainbow and bright lights chard. Between the two colourful chards I think in the future I will just stick with Bright Lights as the leaves were more robust and much bigger than the Rainbow chard.
I have come across versions of these chard parcels or bundles in a number of cookbooks. This method is not unusual, communities have been stuffing vine leave for centuries; and old fashion vegetarian home cooks and vegetarian chefs alike have been stuffing cabbage leaves with lentils, rice and even soya mince. This particular stuffing reminds me of those savoury morsels you find amongst South Asian communities called aloo tikka, a deep fried spiced potato mash. I would definitely serve this dish as a starter rather than a main. I served this with my home-made tomato chilli jam come tomato chilli sauce.
I am sending this post to Yasmeen from Healthnut for Weekend Herb Blogging #206, the weekly event founded by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and now coordinated by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything at Least Once.

Bright Rainbow chard bundles with spiced puy and potatoes
Serves 6
500g potatoes, cooked and mashed
80g puy cooked
1 green chilli, finely sliced
2 shallots or 1 small onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 sprig of thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp garam masala
12 – 15 medium chard leaves, cut off the stalks*
100ml vegetable stock
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the shallots, garlic, chilli, thyme and garam masala for a few minutes. Then add the drained lentils and cook for a minute or so until well coated. Turn off heat and add the mashed potatoes until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add chard to boiling water and cook for a minute, then pull out to drain. On a works surface, lay out a chard leaf and put a generous tablespoon of the potato mix.

Roll the leaf up, tuck in the sides and roll the leaf to the end, keeping the bundle tight. Repeat with the rest of the leaves, then place in an oven dish. Pour in the vegetable stock. Cover with foil and cook gas mark 5 for about 20 minute. Adapted from Paradiso Seasons

*I saved the stalks to make a Rainbow tile tart, so keep them in the fridge (raw) to cook with them further; or failing that compost them.


  1. The little parcles look really interesting. Although im not quite sure what chard is, is it the same as silverbeet or spinach?


  2. Awesome!I had not seen chard in such rainbow colors.Growing your own is a great idea.I made stuffed turnip greens other day with similar spicy stuffing.Thanks for sending these over to WHB :D

  3. Hi Rose,
    Chard I think is also known as silverbeet. It is similar to spinach, just bigger and more robust.

    Welcome and Thank you Yasmeen.
    I am curious about the stuffed turnip greens. I had a load of turnip leaves early in the month and have found numerous ways to cook with them, but had not considered stuffing them, maybe next time.

  4. I love Bright Lights chard, Mango. I have made those "bundles" stuffed with a brown rice filling composed of feta, raisins, onions, cottage cheese and lots of dill. Mine did not do so well this year, but there are some small leaves still left in the garden.

  5. Yay Barbara,
    I am really pleased to read that you have made those bundles, there are so many chefs around who claim such humble dishes are their culinary invention, which annoys me, but I hand it over to them for making such dishes look appetizing to those who eat meat. I do like the sound of your filling, and may try it out in a 'bundle'.

    I am sorry to read that your chard hasn't done as well as mine, could be the seed, the soil or even the weather. Maybe better luck next time.

  6. Yum - swiss chard, probably my favourite allotment veg for all the reasons you've given: here in London in can last all year round and I do in fact make a late summer sowing to crop through the winter. Very rarely will it run to seed, though never as quickly as spinach. It grows easily and is a prolific cropper, it's delicious, it's easy to cook in so many ways and it looks fabulous, especially the yellow ribbed variety.
    Might try your bundle recipe this weekend :)

  7. Thank you Scarlett,
    I think it is my favurite vegetable to grow, not necessarily just for eating, but to admire its colours.
    If you do make these bundles go easy on the chilli.

  8. Thanks for stopping by for a visit! I'm glad you did, cause now I've found you as well!

    This is the most fun use of rainbow swiss chard that I've ever seen. You are so right about the availability of worthwhile and fresh chard at the market. I've never heard of an allotment, but it really seems wonderful, after perusing your blog for a while it makes me wish I had one! I'll tell you what though, if I can find some that is as gorgeous as yours I'll be making this dish straight away -- lovely!

  9. I am so glad that we are acquainted now.

    I hope you enjoy this recipe if you do get hold of chard.

  10. How exciting to have such colorful chard!!

  11. Michele,
    I am one lucky veg grower. I Have so much of it still growing. I amhoping it willlast well into the winter season.

  12. Sounds very good. I still have a little chard in my garden, but it's supposed to snow here tomorrow night so I think I'll cut it all off in the morning. I agree about the bright lights chard, it's great.


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