From across the country, Portland looms as this place where everything comes in quirkier, locally produced, more artisanal versions of what the rest of us have. And then when you come out here, it turns out that all of these things are actually true. The Portland of public imagination is, in fact, Portland in reality. City Hall is seriously growing its own Swiss chard.
Chard (Beta vulgarissubsp. cicla),is aleafy green vegetableoften used in Mediterranean cooking. In somecultivars, the leaf stalks are large and are often prepared separately from the leaf blade.
The leaf blade can be green or reddish in color; the leaf stalks also vary in color, usually white, yellow, or red.
Chard has been bred to have highly nutritious leaves and is considered to be one of the most healthful vegetables available, making it a popular addition to healthful diets (like other green leafy vegetables).
Chard has been around for centuries, but because of its similarity to beets and some other vegetables such as cardoon, the common names used by cooks over the centuries can be quite confusing
The word “Swiss” was used to distinguish chard from French spinachvarieties by 19th century seed catalogue publishers. Chard is very popular amongMediterranean cooks. The first varieties have been traced back to Sicily.
Chard is a biennial. Clusters of chard seeds are usually sown, in the Northern Hemisphere, between April and August, depending on the desired harvesting period. Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender, or after maturity when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Harvesting is a continuous process, as most species of chard produce three or more crops. Raw chard is extremely perishable.
Cultivars of chard include green forms, such as ‘Lucullus’ and 'Fordhook Giant’, as well as red-ribbed forms such as 'Ruby Chard’ and 'Rhubarb Chard’. The red-ribbed forms are very attractive in the garden, but as a general rule, the older green forms tend to outproduce the colorful hybrids. 'Rainbow Chard’ is a mix of other colored varieties that is often mistaken for a variety unto itself.
Chard has shiny, green, ribbed leaves, with petioles that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivar.
Chard is a spring harvest plant. In the Northern Hemisphere, chard is typically ready to harvest as early as April and lasts through May. Chard is one of the hardier leafy greens, with a harvest season typically lasting longer than kale, spinach or baby greens
We made this Potato, Leek and Golden Chard Frittata mostly from the garden. It was so fresh, bright and delicious. Both my husband and I couldn’t stop saying how good it was with every single bite. There’s nothing tastier than freshly picked food. The eggs, bread, bacon and cheese are from the grocery store, but the leeks, new potatoes, Swiss chard and cherry tomatoes have been growing in our garden since winter. The cherry tomato plant is in a pot near a south facing wall. It never died all the way down, and now it’s come back to life and is giving us a few tomatoes each day. The blackberries are from our thornless blackberry vine which is three years old and has started producing lots of fruit this year. This is the biggest harvest we’ve gotten so far and the berries are so delicious. We have several pots of Swiss chard growing. It’s delicious and mild, easy to grow and very versatile. And don’t get me started on how much fun it is to grow potatoes. Because I won’t stop. It’s really fun and easy to grow potatoes. And free organic potatoes. Harvesting them is like winning a prize. Congratulations, you win potatoes.
Here’s how to make a Garden Chard Frittata:
Heat oven to 400.
Cook some bacon until crispy and set aside on paper towels. Bacon.
In a skillet, sauté sliced leeks (or shallots or onions) in a little olive oil or butter. Add diced new potatoes, about ¼ cup or 1 small potato. Cook together, season with a little salt and pepper. Once the potatoes start to soften, add washed and spun chopped Swiss chard, stems and all. Once the greens cook down, about 4 minutes, add 4 scrambled eggs, a few chopped cherry tomatoes, and your favorite grated cheese. Place in the oven until the eggs firm up and the cheese melts. Serve with crumbled bacon on top and a side of toast and fruit.