Not many people in South Africa know the difference between spinach and swiss chard because swiss chard has for the longest time been sold to us as spinach. Swiss chard has the long curly leaf with a thick celery like stalk where as spinach has a small flat round leaf with a thin tender stalk. So now that we have cleared that up I will carry on talking about chard and you will know what I’m talking about.
Chard grows really well in coastal regions with a high rain fall, hot summers and mild winters. This explains why we have so much of it in South Africa and why it is also a great option for home gardens. It easy, hardy and looks really pretty too. Stodels Garden Center has a great selection of home veggie gardening solutions and has extremely knowledgeable staff who can help you get set up. Both my father and my sister have a had a massive crop over the summer and asked my advice on how they should use it.
One of the applications I suggested was a salad. This salad is unique as the leaves are blanched (to tenderise them) and then marinated which makes this salad just that bit different and special. It is great served with Mediterranean style foods, like rare roast lamb and crispy grilled potatoes wedges or with a braai and crusty breads.
Swiss Chard Salad
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. Olive brine (the water the olives come in)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1 clove of garlic, minced
A healthy grind of black pepper (optional)
About 20 leaves of Swiss Chard, extremely well washed and drained, stalks cut out
1 medium onion, cut into rings
3 small ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
A large hand full of black olives, pitted
1 cup of loosely broken up feta
Put a medium pot or deep pan with about 5cm of water on the stove to heat to a low simmer. Combine the first six ingredients into a bowl and set aside.
Blanche a few swiss chard leaves at a time for a minutes or two in the simmering water until tender but still bright green in colour. With a slotted spoon drain the chard leaves, shake off the excess water and dunk into the marinade. Then arrange each individual leaf into a loose clump on a platter. Continue until all the leaves have been blanched, marinated and arrange evenly over the platter.