It’s cold and snowy out likely where you are, but I’m already perusing seed catalogs and figuring out the micro-farm for next year. Something I know I have enough of is Swiss Chard. Something that I’ll likely plant more of is Turnips.
Swiss Chard, the heirloom rainbow variety that I grow particularly, makes a pleasant colorful addition to any recipe where you would use greens – spinach, collards, mustard. And it’s loaded with good nutrients and vitamins for you. The folks in the Mediterranean have known the benefits of this food for a long time. Americans are just coming around to understanding how wonderful it is. The colors streaking through the vibrant green in the leaf should signal to us that the nutrients inside will especially help our nervous system. Bonus for Swiss Chard is that you can use the stalks separately in any recipe where you would use celery.
Here’s a recipe that’s simple, delicious and even my pickiest eater ate with nary a complaint:
1 bunch Swiss chard – stems and veins trimmed (cut into strips)
Stalks of Swiss Chard chopped fine.
Enough olive oil to sauté stalks (just enough to coat your pan lightly)
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a heavy-based, oven-wear pot over a medium heat. My big cast-iron frying pan works well for this. Oil your pan, and toss in the chopped stalks and sauté for about three minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Add the butter and the flour and stir for 3 to 5 minutes. Do not allow mixture to boil. Whisk the mixture and add the milk little by little. Once all the milk is incorporated and the mix is lump free, add the chard. Stir the mixture and once the chard has wilted down wipe the sides of the dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and grated cheese on top. Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve. Eat. Enjoy.
Next I wanted to share with you my newly found love for turnips, the much maligned root vegetable, which I don’t understand because they are a great source of calcium, potassium and vitamin C. This past growing season, I had many lessons to learn on growing turnips, mainly that you have to thin the crop sooner than what I did. Turnips like to grow in a moister soil, so once the tops are a healthy five inches or so you need to apply a mulch to help keep the bed of turnips happy. Do not grow them near peppers. Peppers like dryer soil. I’ve dedicated for 2014 a whole separate bed for turnips. You can also eat the Turnip Greens. However, the recipe I’m going to share today concentrates on the yummy root. Turnips have a potato-like consistency and this recipe plays off of that. This particular dish is now a part of my “comfort food” go-to recipes. Move over Macaroni & Cheese!
8 cups of chopped turnips (about 10-12 medium turnips), peeled and diced
Broth or water for boiling
½ pound of bacon
2 tablespoons bacon fat
2 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon onion powder
Sea salt and pepper, to taste (I use THIS sea salt)
2 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped or chopped
Put diced turnips in a large pot and fill with water or broth.
Bring to a boil and let simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes or until tender. (I once was dealing with a kid crisis and it simmered for near an hour – took any and all bitter after taste that turnips, especially spring turnips, might have. But I wouldn’t cook more than an hour.)
While the turnips are cooking, cook your bacon in skillet over medium heat until crispy.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and then crumble your bacon. Once the turnips are done simmering, drain well, and return turnips to pot. Add the remaining ingredients, except the bacon and chives. Mash to desired consistency.
Fold in bacon. Top with fresh chopped chives (which are a herb-garden staple for me).
Serve. Eat. Enjoy!
I served both these with some barbecued chicken and there were NO leftovers. So, yes, I need to plant more turnips, because we only got a few go-rounds using them for our meals before the crop was gone. Swiss Chard we had all summer, into fall, and I noticed there were new sprouts coming up, which means I won’t even need to re-seed.
Alright, time to go back to the seed catalog and farmer’s journal. Do you have a favorite recipe for these two vegetables? Share them, please.