Thursday, July 5, 2012

Swiss chard

Photo: Daniel Mosquin, on UBC Botanical Gardens website

Every year when my neighbour and I do a nursery run, I am seduced by the beauty of Swiss Chard. The gorgeous colours of this healthy green, almost never seen in stores, make me think I will take care of and harvest the plants. I never do, and they bolt before I get around to picking and cooking the colourful stems and leaves.

I first saw chard, an all-green variety, as a child. A neighbour grew it and gave it to my Mom. It looked a lot like spinach, and at first it didn't appeal. I didn't like spinach then.

It seems to me that Swiss chard was out of fashion for years, at least among city folk. It was hard to find, and for those who did find it, there was only one way to cook it: steaming.

My daughter discovered it a few years ago; she sautees it, just showing it the pan, and then adds a bit of balsamic vinegar. Delicious, and very nutritious. According to the World's Healthiest Foods, it is rich in phytonutrients called betalains. It also has loads of polyphenyl antioxidants, and is a great tonic for the blood. Our grandmothers knew this, even if not scientifically.

Every spring, we enjoy a few meals of chard, bought in season from a farm market, or from Two EEs Farm on the Fraser Highway, a great place to buy naturally grown heritage produce.

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