Our kitchen garden cook Melanie Johnson makes the most of delicious green, leafy vegetables and makes yummy Swiss-chard rolls.
Fabulously earthy, Swiss chard is a very easy vegetable to grow and immensely satisfying, too, as the huge leaves with rainbow stems burst from the ground.
Creamy chicken Swiss-chard rolls with walnut pesto and pomegranate seeds
For the rolls
- 1 finely diced red onion
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 500g minced chicken
- 2tspn rosemary
- Zest of half a lemon
- 300g garlic-and-herb cream cheese
- 12 large Swiss chard leaves
- 375ml single cream
- 100g grated Parmesan
For the walnut pesto
- 150g roughly chopped walnuts
- 1 peeled and chopped garlic clove
- A handful fresh basil
- 100g grated Parmesan
- 2 roughly chopped sundried tomatoes in oil
- 75g olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- Pomegranate seeds and red-veined sorrel to serve
Fry the red onion in a splash of oil until soft. Add the crushed garlic and chicken and stir continuously until just opaque. Scatter with the rosemary and lemon zest, mix well, add the cream cheese and mix again. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
Blanch the Swiss chard leaves in a pan of boiling water for four minutes, transfer briefly to iced water and then dry on kitchen roll. Cut the base off one of the leaves to square it off and add a spoonful of chicken to the base. Fold the sides in and then roll up, ending with the seam on the underside. Repeat with the remaining leaves and arrange the rolls in a buttered ovenproof dish. At this stage, you could refrigerate them until ready to cook.
To make the pesto, simply put all the ingredients in a processor and blitz to a coarse paste. Set aside until ready to use.
Preheat your oven to 200ºC/350ºF/gas mark 6. Pour the cream over the rolls and top with the grated Parmesan. Bake for 15–18 minutes or until golden on top. Drizzle with the walnut pesto, scatter with pomegranate seeds and red-veined sorrel and serve immediately.
More ways with Swiss chard
To make 2 tartines, use 4 large leaves of Swiss chard. Cut the stems away, chopping them into 2cm pieces and slicing the leaves into ribbons. Thinly slice a red onion and fry it in a generous splash of olive oil. Add a sprig of rosemary, a clove of crushed garlic and, finally, the Swiss-chard stems. Fry for a few minutes to soften. Add the Swiss-chard leaves and stir to wilt them down. Toast two slices of sourdough bread, drizzle with olive oil and rub with garlic. Spoon the Swiss chard over them and top with a squeeze of lemon juice, a scattering of chilli flakes and a grating of Parmesan. Serve immediately.
Swiss-chard and potato gratin
Prepare 300g of Swiss chard by cutting the stems from the leaves, chopping them into bite-sized pieces and slicing the leaves into ribbons. Blanch the stems in boiling water for 4 minutes, then remove and set aside. Blanch the leaves for 2 minutes. Peel and thinly slice 1kg of potatoes. In a jug, mix together 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 200ml of double cream, 200ml of whole milk and seasoning. Butter an ovenproof dish. Arrange a third of the potatoes in the dish, overlapping slightly, then top with half the Swiss chard and 100g of grated cheese (such as Cheddar or Gruyère). Repeat and finish with a final layer of potatoes. Pour in the cream mixture, sprinkle it with cheese and bake in a hot oven for about 45–55 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Swiss chard is fabulously healthy.
Layers of flavour: Parma ham, spinach and chestnut mushrooms give this lasagne dish a lift.
If you have a kitchen garden in your period property it can be easily adapted for modern living by being