What a horrible name for such a lovely vegetable. Truth be told, only asparagus can bring such a seasonal flood of childhood memories to my brain and a pinch to my salivary glands like Chard. Call it what you will, Swiss Chard, Silverbeat, Perpetual Spinach or Mangold, this leafy beauty with its long, slender stems couldn't have been more eagerly anticipated this year. Thankfully, global warming eased its grip so Fall could usher in the breezy warm days and cool nights for this wonderful green to come into its own, and into our home.
I grew up with Swiss Chard, as we liked to call it upstate (New York). My grandfathers would grow it and my father still does. My mother will take the harvest and sauté it with large, but thinly sliced garlic (once again from the garden) and bread crumbs with a bit of salt and pepper. Although she traditionally uses the stems, I find myself now adding a bit of red wine with the hand torn leaves before throwing in mustard infused Japanese panco bread crumbs. OK mom, I'm a bit fancy, but the taste can still live up to fond memories of this simple Italian dish.
Pictured are the red-ribbed varieties often known as Ruby Chard, Rainbow Chard or Rhubarb Chard.