There is a certain kind of summer morning when the air is sweet – digestible. Neri lifts her head and sniffs, squeezing her eyes with delight, breathing in the flavour. If cats could smile, that look would be it.
It’s high summer. Most of the grains, rye, wheat and barley are in; the hay is cut; spring lamb is coming into sale and the market teems with gorgeous vegetables.
The days are slowly growing shorter. Coming back from a party last night at midnight, the sky was milky blue and indigo – no longer flaunting the lilacs and roses of a few weeks ago. Like all humans, I don’t relish the coming of winter with its biting winds and treacherous ice under innocent looking snow, but as a member of a working agrarian community, I know that like all living things, the land must sleep.
So, like any frugal farmer-hunter-gatherer, I revel in these last months of golden light, storing the sun’s gift of Vitamin D in my cells, slowly filling my freezer with chanterelles and berries, and my larder with tomato sauce, chutneys, apple sauce and dried herbs.
In the meantime, we still have to eat. Last week I got my hands on some fresh-from-the-field organic* Swiss chard and new potatoes.
The baby potatoes, smaller than an egg, with such delicate purple skins, wanted only to be steamed with some mint and served with a drizzle of olive oil, fleur du sel and fresh cracked black pepper. The Swiss chard I stir-fried.
Stir-fried Swiss chard
Recipe for 2-3 servings **
** all amounts are approximate. When cooking for myself I never measure.
200 grams washed Swiss chard
1 white onion sliced into julienne strips
1 fat clove garlic, salt & pepper –chopped together to a paste.
4 – 5 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 tbls. Aceto Balsamico
A nice splash of rosé wine
Olive oil, salt & pepper to taste
Wash the Swiss chard and separate the stems from the leaves.
Cut the stems into pieces about 3 cm long and shred the leaves into ribbons. Keep separate.
Heat the olive oil in a good sized skillet with a cover and add the garlic, salt &
After a minute or two add the onion and stir fry for another minute
Add the chard stems and fry another minute of two, stirring regularly.
Repeat with the cherry tomatoes, squishing them down to release the pulp.
Add the shredded leaves, the Balsamico, and white wine. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes until the leaves are wilted.
Remove cover and turn up the heat to let the juices reduce slightly.
Taste for seasoning
I reheated the leftovers with some chicken stock and a handle of tubetti the next day to make soup.
* As I am a member of the local Saare Mahe Organic Farmers Union, all vegetables and most meats that I cook with are local and organic.