Learn how to cook with in-season Barese chard


Farmers are just as interested in growing something new as we are in trying out a delicious new vegetable. Linda Scharko of Scharko Farms says she waited two months to get her hands on the seeds for Barese chard, an heirloom Italian variety of the vegetable we think of as “Swiss” chard.

“The seed catalogs said it would be a good substitute for the choys. We find the choys are tasty, but the worms and bugs think they’re tasty, too, and they’re susceptible to lots of damage from bugs. We were looking for something that would grow well over the winter and provide us with a pretty green to take to market.”

The “we” is Linda and her husband Tony. They’ve just been honored with Georgia Organics’ 2017 Barbara Petit Pollinator Award for their decades of hands-on farming and mentoring future farmers in the Georgia area. The couple farms on 4 acres just a few blocks from historic downtown Fairburn.

<<Where to find 2017 metro Atlanta farmers markets


<<More recipes to make right now

Scharko has been bringing Barese chard to her customers at the year-round Saturday morning Peachtree City Farmers Market. She even carries a container-grown plant with her so her customers can see what it looks like growing.

The Scharkos planted about 400 row feet of this new variety, seeding thickly. Within about six weeks they were able to start cutting down smaller plants and bringing those to market, leaving the other plants to grow on uncrowded.

The farm is planting more for spring and expects to have plenty for the customers of their community-supported agriculture program that began March 1 and for shoppers at the seasonal East Atlanta Village Farmers Market when it opens April 13.

She finds this new variety of chard works well as both a salad green and a cooking green. The leaf texture is a little sturdier than that of Swiss chard, resembling fresh spinach leaves as much as anything. The stems are about an inch wide and white. They’re tender, but they take a little longer to cook than the leaves, so for some preparations, you’ll want to cook them separately.

Barese Chard Gratin

My introduction to Swiss chard came many years ago in the pages of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II” by Julia Child and Simone Beck. Back then, it was a completely new vegetable to me. Now it’s at every farmers market and grocery store, most often in the form of the colorful “Rainbow” variety.

I’ve adapted the Child/Beck version which is still my favorite no matter what the chard. I think it’s prettiest with the green and white of Barese chard.

1 pound Barese chard (about 4 heads)

3 cups water, divided

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Juice of 1 lemon (optional)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 egg yolk

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Prepare the chard by cutting off the green leaves and roughly chopping. Set aside. Trim the stem ends and cut the white stalks into 1/4-inch slices.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup water and flour. Heat over medium heat and gradually add remaining 2 cups water, whisking to reduce the chance of lumps. Add lemon juice, if using. When mixture begins to simmer, add chard stem pieces and cook 20 minutes or until tender. Add leaf pieces and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.

In a small bowl, whisk together cream and egg yolk. Stirring constantly, add to the hot vegetable mixture and simmer until sauce thickens. Taste for seasoning. Pour mixture into baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan. Dot with bits of butter and broil just until top begins to brown. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving. Serves: 6

Per serving: 111 calories (percent of calories from fat, 59), 4 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 8 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 57 milligrams cholesterol, 263 milligrams sodium.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Food

Will calorie counts on menu items do more harm than good?

Starting in May, you can expect to see calorie information labels on more restaurant menus, as the Food and Drug Administration starts enforcing the national menu labeling law that was passed in 2010 as part of health-care restructuring. All chain restaurants and other food establishments with 20 or more locations will need to post calorie information...
Kraft Heinz embraces Momofuku Sauce in bid for foodie cachet

Kraft Heinz Co., struggling with sliding sales and a falling stock price, is partnering with celebrity chef David Chang to generate some buzz. The ketchup maker will use its expertise in food production and distribution to help Chang take his Momofuku Ssam sauce national for the first time. The condiment, which has been served across the chef's restaurant...
Cider tasting room to open in Atlanta and more drink and dining news from the week
Cider tasting room to open in Atlanta and more drink and dining news from the week

Here are the stories that made a splash in the Atlanta food world this week. Atlanta Hard Cider Co. is set to break ground this  summer. / Photo from the Atlanta Hard Cider Co. Facebook page Atlanta Hard Cider Co. has plans to break ground on a facility in West Midtown this summer. The cider company, which was launched last year by husband and...
New JoJo’s Candy Shop is sweet news for Vinings
New JoJo’s Candy Shop is sweet news for Vinings

JoJo’s Candy Shop recently opened in the Vinings on the River shopping center / Photo credit: Ligaya Figueras Vinings just got a little bit sweeter now that JoJo’s Candy Shop has opened its doors. Located at 4199 Paces Ferry Road in the Vinings on the River shopping center, which is also home to Canoe, JoJo’s is stocked...
Celebrate SweetWater 420 Fest this weekend with this beer pick
Celebrate SweetWater 420 Fest this weekend with this beer pick

Credit: SweetWater Brewing Co. The date 4/20 means many things to many people. But in Atlanta, it marks the return of the SweetWater 420 Fest , which will be held for the fourth year at Centennial Olympic Park. It’s three days in celebration of music and beer, including the...
More Stories