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Posts Tagged ‘swiss chard’

On Friday after work I zipped out to my garden, hoping to do a little weeding before the sun went down (and to avoid going out there in this weekend’s oppressive heat and humidity).   I ended up spending most of the time harvesting a huge amount of produce that was absolutely ready to be picked/dug/thinned/etc.  My yellow string beans, in particular, are insane!  Last weekend I got about a pound and a half, and this weekend I probably got about three pounds!  I also got new potatoes, Swiss chard, salad greens, baby carrots, little shallots, basil, dill, rosemary, and a whole mess of mint.

Not pictured: my first cherry tomatoes of the season, which I ate along with some more beans, potatoes, and salad greens in a salade Niçoise as soon as I got home.  Still, can you believe all this?  In total, I brought home 6.5 pounds of vegetables from my garden – I know, because I sneakily weighed my sack of produce at the Wisconsin Avenue Giant before I headed home.  Good thing I can bring a lot of it to my friend’s birthday picnic tomorrow, or else I’d have way too much food on my hands.  My garden is definitely more productive this year.  I wasn’t getting heavy harvests like this until much later in the season last year.

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If you preserve your own produce, it’s easy to hang onto things too long because each item seems “special.”  I mean, you can’t just open that jar of pickles for any old occasion, right?  And don’t you realize how precious that frozen bag of blanched Swiss chard is?!!

This is how I ended up with waaay too many of last year’s preserved items still in my cupboard and freezer, even though the new growing season is emerging.  So I’ve been finding creative ways to use up all the random items.  I defrosted a bunch of frozen chard-tomato sauce and made Barbara Kingsolver’s eggs in a nest (pictured at right – yeah, it doesn’t look terribly appetizing, but it’s really satisfying).  I also defrosted some ratatouille and devoured it over quinoa.  Then on a picnic, my friends and I devoured the ginger-spiced pickled carrots I made, which turned out to be delicious.  This weekend I might try making deep fried pickled peppers, as an experiment.

The point is, whether you’ve done your own preserving or you just have a lot of frozen/dried/canned items sitting around, now is a good time to start using them up.  Because pretty soon there’s going to be more fresh produce coming out of the garden or market than you know what to do with.  This past weekend I got my very first salad out of my garden!  It was pretty perfect along side some Vace agnelloti with caramelized onions and home-grown sage, with a home-grown mint mojito.

Change is good!

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Happy Pi Day

Yesterday, 3/14, was Pi Day, the day when numbers nerds celebrate our favorite irrational number.  Hooray for 3.1415…!  Most people bake sweet pies to celebrate, but I thought I’d go savory.  Et voila, la quiche.

The best part of this quiche is that I used up some of the last of my frozen garden-grown Swiss chard (along with onions and Keswick Creamery feta).  As I mentioned a few weeks back, March is one of the few months of the year when I expect zero harvest.  So it seems like a great time to use up all the stuff I preserved.  Now what do I do with a few jars of pickled peppers, carrots, and beets?

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DC’s first snow of the year fell on Saturday – a wet, ploppy kind of snow that didn’t really stick on the sidewalks, but left some accumulation on the grass and bushes.  So today I trekked out to my garden plot to see whether any of my winter vegetables had survived.  It’s very peaceful out there when there’s snow on the ground.  And underneath an iced-over coat of snow, a lot of vegetables were toughing it out.

Baby bok choy, under the snow.

Supposedly kale gets sweeter after a hard frost. I think this is hard and frosty enough!

This winter-hardy arugula is living up to its product description.

The leeks in my neighbor's plot are holding up very well!

I can't believe the swiss chard. It was heat tolerant all throughout the blistering summer, and now it's cold-tolerant enough to survive a snow. Amazing.

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Leek and Swiss Chard Quiche1 (Large)

It was a Smitten Kitchen-inspired bonanza on Sunday when I baked a Leek and Swiss Chard Tart in a slightly modified Foolproof Pie Dough crust.  The recipes, which came from Bon Apetitit and Cooks Illustrated respectively, were both featured on Smitten Kitchen and make a delicious pairing.  I omitted the sugar and added some whole wheat flour to the crust (and next time I’d use way less fat – it’s SO rich).  And I just used 5 whole eggs instead of separating out a couple yolks in the quiche.  But I highly recommend the general concept.  This was a great way to use up a lot of my extra chard and taste the first leeks from my garden.

Leek and Swiss Chard Quiche2 (Large)

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My fall garden is doing very well, and now I’m once again dealing with an excess of greens.  And some of the stars of summer are producing into the fall.  I’m still getting jalapeños and other peppers, plus a few tomatoes here and there (Romas and Dr. Carolyns).  And the Swiss Chard is as productive as ever.  But the fun stuff is all the tender, new plants I sowed in early September.

This bed is mostly arugula, with a little lettuce and basil and dill here and there.

This bed is mostly arugula, with a little lettuce and basil and dill here and there.

In the foreground, there's lettuce I planted from starts.  The middle section is carrots and the back section is beets, both of which have a way to go to reach maturity.

In the foreground, there's lettuce I planted from starts. The middle section is carrots and the back section is beets, both of which have a way to go to reach maturity.

In one bed I scattered many assorted lettuces and mesclun mixes.  Now they're perfect for a tender salad.

In one bed I scattered many assorted lettuces and mesclun mixes. Now they're perfect for a tender salad.

The chard is still robust.  I always have too much.

The chard is still robust. I always have too much.

The Mexican Sour Gherkin vines are also still incredibly productive.

The Mexican Sour Gherkin vines are also still incredibly productive.

Me in my garden plot!

Me in my garden plot!

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I’m not going to make a habit of having themes for each week.  But as last week’s series on preservation methods showed, this is the time of year when gardeners must get creative in coming up with ways to use up the piles of stuff coming out of the garden.  So this week I’ll be writing about ways I’ve liquidated my extra produce recently.

First up was a clever recipe my friend devised when I brought a huge pile of Swiss Chard over to her place.  We opened up a can of imported Italian clam sauce from Vace, and tossed about half a cup of of the garlicky sauce and all of the chopped clams with the chiffonaded chard leaves.  This mixture was piled on top of a pizza crust (also from Vace) that had been partially baked on a pizza stone.  We put this back in the oven and let the leaves cook down.  Then we added a bunch of grated parmesan on top and baked some more until the cheese and the crust got golden.  Lastly, we added several good shakes of red pepper flakes for some kick and chopped parsley for brightness.

Chard Pizza (Large)

It was a delicious and extremely healthy way to use up a lot of chard all at once.  The leaves reduce dramatically in volume, so even a big thick pile will wilt down into a thin layer.  And salty, garlickly clam sauce paired perfectly.

Chard Pizza2 (Large)

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