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Go green (and maybe red) with a chard frittata

Recipe: Classic brunch dish uses this easy plant to grow and to cook

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This chard plant just keeps growing and thriving despite the gardener’s lack of attention.
(Photos: Kathy Morrison)
When I get asked whether I’m growing a winter garden, I usually answer, “No — not enough time or light.” Then I remember the red chard plant.
I plopped this plant and another, a yellow-stemmed one, into pots when they were just 4-inch babies. And I put them in separate somewhat shaded areas of my backyard. The yellow-stem one isn’t much bigger than when it went into its pot, but this red-stemmed plant is a beauty: Long stalks and lush, full leaves, the latter easily 10 inches long.
I have done exactly nothing to help this plant reach this state. It literally has thrived on neglect, and enough winter rainfall.
Now if only I could remember to cook with it more. It cooks like spinach, after all, and is so nutrient-dense: Loads of vitamins A, C and K, along with iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium, to name a few.
This frittata is one recipe I’ve found and liked. I adapted a version of Alice Waters’ that I found at lettyskitchen.com . Frittatas are wonderfully versatile, so switch out the mushrooms, add more cheese, or more herbs if you like. But don’t forget the chard!
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These are the basic frittata ingredients.
Add cheese or other veggies if you like.

Chard and onion frittata
Serve 4-6

Ingredients :

8 stalks chard, washed thoroughly
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (optional)
Sea salt
6 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, thyme or herb of your choice
Cayenne pepper (optional)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or other cheese

Instructions :

Remove the thick part of the stalks from the chard. Slice the leaves and tender part of the stalk no wider than about 1 inch. Chop up about half of the thicker stalk pieces, save the remainder for another project, if desired. (Pickle them, perhaps?) You should have about 6 cups of leaves and small stalk pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Add the onion and saute a few minutes, until the slices begin to soften. Stir in the stalks; the onion will pick up some of the color, but that’s OK.

Once the stalks start to cook, add the mushroom slices, if using, Then add the garlic and cook another few minutes. Finally, add the chard and a pinch of salt. It will look like a lot of leaves, but don’t worry, they will shrink down plenty after a few minutes. Continue cooking until all the leaves are wilted. Remove from heat and let cool while you prepare the eggs.

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The finished dish.

Crack all the eggs into a large bowl, then add 1/8 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, some grinds of black pepper, the 1/2 teaspoon (or more) of herbs, and, if desired, a pinch of cayenne. Beat lightly with a fork or whisk. Then stir the chard mixture into the eggs.

Preheat the broiler on the oven. Wipe out the skillet, and put it back over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and swirl it around in the pan. Once the oil starts to heat up, pour in the egg mixture. As the eggs set on the bottom, tip the pan to allow the uncooked egg to slip underneath. Continue cooking until the frittata is set but still slightly jiggly on top. Remove from heat and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Slide the pan under the broiler, watching it carefully, and remove once the cheese is melted and golden.

Slide the frittata out of the pan onto a large plate, and cut into wedges to serve. This is a great brunch dish, but can be a fine dinner with the addition of a salad and fresh bread.







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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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