I’m out of ideas and lacking imagination, and its only Tuesday!
I can claim not one jot of original thought for tonight’s supper. When my wife suggested, several weeks ago, that we start taking a veg box again, I have to confess that my first reaction was to go cold with fear. I remember the last time she suggested this. In particular, I remember mountains of a particular vegetable that at this time of year we could never get rid of – chard. So, when I inspected the contents of the latest box last Friday and saw a large bag of the stuff, I was determined not to let my green-leaf nemesis get the better of me.
To use up seasonal ingredients, I turn to a particularly well-thumbed book on my kitchen bookshelf. Nigel’s book. No, not Nosey Chef North, who has yet to have the wit to produce a book, but rather Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries. This is a fantastic book, and one of the few books I have cooked from beginning to end. It came into its own when we used to live in Devon where we had a prolific kitchen garden. And it is in that book I found this incredibly simple and easy to prepare quick mid-week supper dish. Even better, it was thrown together, quite literally, from ingredients that I had lying about. This was also a fantastic way to use the ageing heel of a rye sourdough loaf that I made on Saturday. The now empty jar of green olives will need replenishing in time for my weekend Martini.
Chard, for all it has haunted me, has been well established in the English kitchen for 300 years, having first been described in 1753 as Beta vulgaris var. cicada. It is known by many names today, common ones include Swiss chard, silver beet and the rather cute ‘perpetual spinach.’ It is rich in vitamins A, K and C, and can be eaten raw or cooked, as well as adding a very welcome splash of vibrant colour to any plate at this rather gloomy time of year.
Admittedly, and as pointed out by Nigel, this is not the most filling of dishes. Clearly a full–on, 10-course, mid-week tasting menu is the order of the day at Eastmond Towers. However, we don’t mind slumming it with something light on a cold Hampshire Tuesday.
The recipe card I have written below is only a guide, and the great thing about dishes like this is that you just mix it up as you wish – a small handful of this, a large handful of that and a slug or a dash of the other.
Wilted Swiss chard on sourdough toast with olive oil, lemon, parsley and green olives
- 2 slices of sourdough bread
- 1 small bag of Swiss chard
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 handful of parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 handful of green olives, chopped
Put a pan of salted water on to boil.
When the water is boiling, toast the sourdough.
Whilst the bread is toasting, plunge the Swiss chard into the boiling water, and immediately withdraw.
Place the wilted chard in a colander to drain.
Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, chopped parsley and olives, and season.
Toss everything together in a large bowl an mix gently, ensuring the chard is generously coated in the dressing.
Pile on top of each of the slices of toasted sourdough bread and serve.