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Cooking Traditions - Swiss Chard & Potatoes

Cooking Traditions - Swiss Chard & Potatoes

I have to confess that I'm a teensy bit jealous of people who grew up in families that have cooking traditions. I hear them recall memories of watching or helping their their Mother or their Nonna or other family member who spent all day cooking traditional meals filled with the freshest ingredients for the family. Recipes were often in their heads after being passed down from generation to generation. Maybe "jealous" isn't the right word, but....well, I guess I just wonder what that would be like. In my head, I've conjured up some kind of traditional Italian version of the Brady Bunch.

If my mother is reading this, let me be clear that I wouldn't have wanted to grow up in any other family with any other parents in any other way. I am one very fortunate person, cooking tradition or not. (Truth be told, my mother didn't love cooking, but managed to always serve healthy meals to her family...despite how annoying her 5 cranky kids probably were.)

When I had more Swiss chard to use from the garden recently, I thought it might be nice to pair with potatoes. I searched around for inspiration and was surprised to find so many recipes that recalled traditional Italian families cooking swiss chard (or broccoli rabe) with potatoes. They recalled it like it was heaven sent by order of the Pope himself. Even Lidia Bastianich wrote about it in her "Lidia's Favorite Recipes" cookbook. I actually do know what it's like to have great memories growing up with certain foods (particularly fresh summer foods), which is really nice to have. My memories are just different than other people's.

So, I went ahead and got inspired by the Italian traditions and cooked up some delicious Swiss Chard & Potatoes....even had the leftovers with eggs the next day. It's a very simple, rustic, hearty dish. I used the recipe from Deborah Mele's blog Italian Food Forever as inspiration.

Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes


1 lb Swiss chard
1 lb new potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 - 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste


Swiss Chard from the Garden
cooking swiss chard and potatoes
  1. Wash chard and trim the stems. Cut the stems into small pieces and fold leaves and cut roughly.
  2. Add potatoes to water and bring to a boil. Salt the water as it starts to come to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes or until slightly tender but still a little bit firm.
  3. Add the chard stems to the water and cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the leaves to the same pot and cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Drain the chard/potatoes well in a colander.
  6. In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil and add the pepper flakes and garlic. Stir frequently for about 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the potatoes and chard and mash the potatoes with the back of a spoon or a masher to break them up.
  8. Cook for about 8 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve warm.
At the time of this post, I hadn't harvested my potato crop yet, cut did a few weeks later. I couldn't believe how many potatoes I got! Read more about it in my post Potato Harvest Day.

If you've got leftovers, cook them the next morning in a skillet with scrambled eggs. Yum...

leftovers with scrambled eggs

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