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

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine