Middle of May and excellent produce is ready to pick and eat in the backyard raised bed gardens. Spinach, kale, collards, radishes and lettuce have all been delicious. Right next to the beets we have Swiss Chard growing tall and proud.
Originally found in Sicily, chard is now widely grown in Provence and the Rhone Valley in France. Starting to see more of it in the local farmer’s market these days. Vendors there tell me the stems are typically separated from the leaves and prepared as one would asparagus. The leaves you can eat raw as a salad, braised in olive oil, or added to soups – a lot like spinach.
BBQ champion, radio personality and author Jim Morgan whispered a rumor that a fellow could grill this veggie. Worth a try, so…
Prepared the grill for direct heat and stabilized at 400°F. Rinsed the chard well, and shook most of the water off. Cut the stems off and added olive oil, salt and pepper.
The stems take a few minutes longer to cook, so placed them on the grill first. After 4 minutes I turned the stems and added leaves to the grill grate in a single layer. Turned these after 2-3 minutes.
You will want to keep a close eye on these. As they begin to take on a brown color, turn ’em. They will be finished as they take on a paper-like texture and have a bit of char on the edges.
Removed leaves from the grill onto a platter, sprinkled salt, then drizzled olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Placed the stems on top of the last of the leaves and served immediately.
Some of the stems had a little bitterness to them. Not sure if that is related to the age of the stem, the color, or another reason. Others were slightly sweet. The char on both the stems and leaves gave a beautiful depth of flavor. Was an appetizer tonight, though this could be served as a side dish. Could compliment grilled portobellos very well. Maybe with a big red wine, say, a Gigondas from that Rhone Valley mentioned above.
Chard should continue to produce until the first hard frost several months from now, so there will be plenty of chances to test this wine pairing theory. Cheers!