Chard is one of my favourite crops; it’s generous, forgiving, winter hardy, versatile, healthy & delicious.
I plant them at the end of the summer so we have fresh green leaves throughout the whole winter. Since they don’t grow that fast in the winter, but we still eat a lot, I plant at least 8 for the two of us. Come spring they either start to bold or grow so fast you can’t eat it all.
Last year I chopped, blanched and froze them and used them mostly for soups and scrambled eggs. This year I made pesto!
I’m sure that even those that aren’t such a fan of the sometimes ‘earthy’ taste of chard will love this recipe.
- Chard – stems & leaves
- Herbs – e.g. rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil
- Cashews, pine nuts or walnuts
- Pepper & salt
- Parmesan, pecorino or grana padano cheese (optional if you prefer vegan)
- Olive oil
- First things first, soak your nuts
- Now, get your hands on all the chard you can. Wash it, chop it and blanch it. Blanching your chard will stop the enzymes. This inactivation will help to preserve colour, flavour and nutritional value and is done with heat. You can either quickly boil your chard or steam it. Make sure to do this in little batches and cool down directly afterwards so you won’t overcook your veggies.
- Chop your onions and garlic. Stir fry the onions first, add some salt, stir fry some more, add your garlic and stir fry just a little longer. Adding salt at this stage will make your unions sweeter as it draws out the moisture so they start to brown which gives them a rich, sweet taste. Adding your garlic a little later gives you that nice fresh garlic taste without being as strong as raw garlic
- Wash and chop your herbs if you are using fresh herbs, otherwise, just have them ready
- Rinse your nuts
- Now just process all ingredients into a smooth paste. You can either use a blender or food processor. Add cheese or leave it out for a vegan version. Add some olive oil. Taste. If needed, add some extra salt and pepper, maybe some extra herbs or finely chopped raw garlic.
- Store in clean containers for freezing and enjoy it with pasta – or anything else you fancy.
* The amounts depend, of course, on the amount of chard you have at hand. To give you an idea I had 10 almost bolting chards and used 3 onions, 1.5 heads of garlic, 200 gr of cashew, 250 gr grana Padano cheese and a handful of fresh herbs.