Chard (Beta vulgaris) - also known as leaf beet - is in the beetroot family. It is super easy to grow and can be harvested almost all-year round if you get the timings right.
We recommend two sowings: first in spring for crops summer through to autumn, secondly after midsummer for winter through to spring.
Chard likes moist conditions and fertile soil. We generally recommend planting in a sunny spot, though it can tolerate some shade in the summer.
We love the Real Seed Company varieties 'Golden Chard' and 'Pink Passion'.
Chard is a leafy vegetable with lots of nutrition packed in its leaves. It is a rich source of vitamins A, K and C, folate, dietary fibre as well as some minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Unsurprisingly, it is sometimes called a ‘super food’.
Chard has lots of common names such as Swiss chard, silver beet, spinach beet, perpetual spinach amongst others. Its stems come in all colours of a rainbow from white to purple, and rainbow chard is all these different-coloured chards packed together.
Young and fresh chard can be used raw in salads, and the more mature ones - cooked. Chard is usually steamed or sautéed. It’s great in stir fries, omelettes, mixed in soups or stews for the last few minutes of cooking. To prepare chard tore its leaves away from the stems and cook them separately. Stems can be cut in small pieces and cooked too, they will take 2-3 minutes longer than leaves to cook, so add them first.
Chef feature: Kuldeep from 'Cegin Cardiff'
Hello, my name is Kuldeep Singh and I, along-with my wife Sugandha Singh, run a small café ‘Cegin Cardiff’ inside a trade union building on 1, Cathedral road. We also run an Indian street-food business ‘Ceginhalfnhalf’.
Both our businesses are simple and based on our learning experiences. Café serves breakfast/lunch/cakes/artisan coffee/loose leaf tea. Our cafe food is inspired by different world cuisines and our street-food business is based on exploring authentic Indian food.
I’ve been a cook for 2 decades now, having started as a trainee patisserie, moving on to tourier, classical French cooking, hotels, airport catering, event catering to restaurants and Michelin stars destination restaurants. Sugandha, my wife, is a degree holder in hospitality and catering and has an experience of over 2 decades of working at front of the house.
In our business we are guided by these few simple rules. We like to get good quality ingredients, get to know our customers and their tastes. We let our business grow through word of mouth.
Kuldeep talks about Chard
Chard is an interesting vegetable. It’s very similar to spinach but has a unique and slightly pungent taste, similar to rocket leaves. It also takes a bit longer to cook than spinach.
I went through a phase in my learning where we would get an ingredient or two, and then try to cook it in all possible forms and present as a dish. When Global Gardens asked me to do something with chard for readers, my mind went into that mode straight away. Thankfully, good sense prevailed maybe because my regular kitchen is closed in lockdown, and I do not have full access to my toys/play area and I thought of using it in 3 different meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner).
I divided the chard into 3 parts: leaves, stem, and centre/colourful part of stem cut into small dice. As most of these recipes are similar to very basic preps, I have not mentioned quantities. But if you need any sort of help in understanding and making these dishes, please feel free to poke me @cegincardiff or @ceginhalfnhalf on Twitter/Facebook and I would be more than happy to assist. I have taken plenty of pics at different stages of dishes for more clarity.
Breakfast: Chard-green beans folded omelette; Chard-green beans masala poached egg
My own breakfast idea starts and ends with eggs. Not only it is a great source of energy/fat/protein but also it’s an ingredient that can be cooked in multiple ways. I used red onion, ginger, mushroom and green beans to go with chard stalk. I think they complement each other well here. I made it two ways (old habits die hard). Preparation is the same for both.
Chard-green beans folded omelette
Chop red onion
Chop green beans
Chop chard stalk
To make the omelette mix masala and eggs in a bowl. Heat oil/butter in a pan, lower the flame and add egg mixture. Mix a little and put the flame back, add some chopped chard leaves. Fold the omelette when the egg is still coagulating and soft.
Serve on its own or with a toast.
Chard-green beans masala poached egg
Chop red onion
Chop green beans
Chop chard stalk
Heat oil/butter in a pan. Add chop ginger, sauté, add all vegetables. Cook al dente, season. Take off the heat.For poached egg boil salted water with a hint of vinegar in a pan. Break egg in a cling film lined bowl, add a little masala, and close the cling film on top to make a pouch. Poach the egg in cling film pouch in simmering water for 3 mins. If the egg is straight from the fridge-10 seconds extra. Take the pouch off the heat and dip in cold water. Cut the cling film and take off the poached egg.
You can use the same pan to make masala to wilt chard leaves with a knob of butter and garlic. Season.
Serve poached egg on bed of wilted chard leaves.
Lunch: Chard-coriander and carrot soup. #vegan #glutenfree
Carrot goes very well with chard in this beautiful soup. Sweetness of carrot, pungency of chard with freshness of coriander leaf is a match made in heaven.
Coriander leaf and stalk
Heat oil in a pan, sauté garlic, diced red onion, coriander stalk, diced celery stalk, diced carrot.
Add chard stem, sauté. Add cold water. Bring to boil, add diced tomato and simmer till carrot is completely cooked. Purée the soup with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Pass through a chinois( or a sieve, or blend it).
Serve hot/cold with coriander leaf garnish. You may use diced chard stalk poached in butter as garnish. It adds to texture as well.
Dinner: Chard-aubergine-carrot-green beans-lentil broth (sambhar) #vegan #glutenfree
For dinner I decided to use chard leaves with sambhar (traditional Indian lentil/vegetable dish). Sambhar has many variations and people in India are very touchy about variations from their respective places. This is just my way of it and by no means to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Toor lentil (yellow split lentil):water= 1:5
Chopped banana shallot/ red onion
Whole red chilli
Urad washed lentil (don’t need to wash, it is variety of urad lentil-split without skin)
Red chilli powder
Tamarind extract (you may soak tamarind in hot water to soften the pulp and use that)
Wash and cook lentils till it’s fully cooked.
Heat oil in a pan, add carrots, drumstick, aubergine. Sauté, add green beans, tomato.
Once vegetables soften, add cooked dal. If the sambhar is too thick, add more hot water.
Add chard leaves. Cook till carrots are fully cooked.
Heat oil in a separate pan. Temper* mustard seed, whole red chilli, urad lentil, curry leaves. Add chopped shallots/red onion, sauté. Add powdered spices, sauté for 10 seconds off the flame. Add it to the lentil and vegetable mix. Simmer for 10 mins. Add few drops of tamarind extract, check seasoning.
Serve hot with steamed rice/ Idli (steamed rice dumpling) or plain white roll.
* Tempering: it’s a process extensively used in Indian cooking, where you heat the oil and add spices. Hot oil makes spices to crackle and release their flavours.
All the very best to my friends, volunteers, patrons at Global Gardens project.