Friendly Swiss chard and gnocchi

Display of chardTwo weeks ago, I took a trip to Des Moines to visit a new friend, an Iowa gardener whose garden makes mine look, well, silly. From flowers to vegetables to trees to herbs, abundance surrounds her home, evidence of hours of hard work and an incredible understanding of plants and how they work together.

When we walked out her back door, my eyes fell on her Fordhook Giant Chard, towering over the garden. “Wow,” I said. “You seem to be having more success with your chard than I am.”

Just before I left, she volunteered to send me home with some of the Fordhook chard, as well as some rainbow chard that, again, looked much better than mine. I am not one to turn down greens, particularly when my have been behaving so poorly. And the unexpected gift changed my whole dinner plan for the evening.

I’ve alluded to this before on the blog, but one of the variables I hadn’t accounted for when I first moved to Iowa City was that Steve was in a fairly serious bike accident right before I arrived. Steve’s Mom, Mary Beth, swooped into town and helped us hold things together, taking Steve to doctors’ appointments and making sure he got all the requisite medicine during the day, and preparing dinner every night so I’d have one less thing to worry about.

One night, quite possibly a night when Mary Beth met me at the door with a glass of wine (God bless anyone who recognizes that, occasionally, the best ministry for crisis is grape-based…), she fixed us a dish she credited to her friend Claire, a fellow potter and food-wine enthusiast who lived not far from my old apartment across the river from D.C. The recipe is deceptively simple and results in a comforting, saucy dish that provides nutrition, warmth and that good carby buzz. Really. It has nothing to do with the wine.

Steve and the chardThe dish, as Mary Beth passed it on and as Claire created it, used tortellini instead of gnocchi, but you can make it either way. You can also substitute onions for the shallots, or use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Make it your own, any way you would like. Just remember that the recipe came by way of friendship, as, in this case, did the chard.

And that chard? I had to include a picture to give you some perspective. Note that Steve is holding it next to the sorry, bitten-off chard that our garden produced. My friend’s crop was serious chard, people. SERIOUS chard. Tall and beautiful and wavy. Chard to get excited about, even before you’ve even started cooking dinner.

Friendly chard and gnocchiFriendly Swiss chard and gnocchi

1-2 large bunches of Swiss chard (rainbow is prettiest, but any chard will do)
2 lbs. gnocchi (or 2 12-oz. packages of your choice of tortellini)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3-5 cloves garlic (depending on your tolerance), chopped
2-3 shallots, chopped (Or, if you’d like, sub in a couple of onions)
1/2 to 1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth

  1. Boil some water. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan, and chop the garlic and shallots.
  2. When the water boils, add the gnocchi and cook as directed. Drain, and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the garlic and shallots until soft. While they’re cooking, chop up the chard. Don’t be absurd about this – a rough chop is really all that’s needed.
  4. Add the chopped chard stems to the garlic and shallots and begin to let it soften. Then begin adding the leaves, letting them wilt before adding the next handful. Use a lid on the pan, if that helps.
  5. About halfway through adding all the chard, pour in enough broth to moisten everything and make it saucy. You want about 1/8 inch of broth in the bottom of your pan.
  6. Continue sautéing the chard and letting the broth cook down until the broth coats the chard-shallot-garlic mixture.
  7. Toss in the gnocchi, mix everything up, and serve immediately, topped with freshly grated Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

This is my post for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is hosted this week by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. Please check out all the great recipes this week!

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26 Responses to “Friendly Swiss chard and gnocchi”


  1. 1 Ruth October 7, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    You are right – her chard is unbelievable. But take heart, yours is still better than my nonexistant chard. I have to BUY mine.

    The dish looks awesome and Steve looks fine, so that’s what counts.

    Check for the WHB roundup on Monday.

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener October 7, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks, Ruth — I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else came up with this week.

    And, well, other than that gift of Des Moinesian chard, I’m having to buy mine, too.

    Sigh.

  3. 3 Veron October 7, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    I love gnocchi, but I only had it with spinach. I will try the swiss chard next time. Great idea !
    Thanks for visiting my site, my hubby converted me to figs and we buy a whole bunch when it is in season.

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener October 7, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    Veron, if only the fig season lasted longer. My dream? To eventually live somewhere where I can have a fig tree. I’d love to be able to grow them myself. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. 5 Susan October 8, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    EEEEEEEEEEEKK! (That’s a squeal of delight upon seeing my chard on your blog.) And I can’t wait to try your recipe. It looks like mother-love on a plate. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Genie, because I think chard is tragically under-appreciated.

    I’m picking the last of the tomatoes to make a tomato tart this evening. I’ll try it with queso fresco instead of mozzie–if it works out well, I’ll let you know.

  6. 6 inadvertentgardener October 8, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    Susan, enjoy the recipe, and definitely keep me posted on the tomato tart — I’ve got a ton of green tomatoes that I just brought in today in advance of this week’s weather, and I’m going to let them ripen indoors. I need to figure out how to use them, though, and a tart sounds lovely!

  7. 7 Brilynn October 9, 2006 at 9:48 am

    This looks excellent! I’m planning on making some sweet potato gnocchi soon, I’m hoping it will turn out this good

  8. 8 kalyn October 9, 2006 at 11:27 am

    That is some impressive looking chard. And now I am feeling rather guilty that I haven’t done much with my own chard, which is not as impressive as your friends, but still pretty healthy. Need to pick some chard now!

  9. 9 cole October 9, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    Yum. Could try the balsamic vinegar/butter chard with gnocchi and add some gorgonzola at the end. mmm. shard. I have to get some at the farmers market this next weekend.

    ALSO, Genie, check out a new blog I am part of…the topic right now are foods from around the world and how it is in your country. I am representing the USA. Living in the mid-west, you will identify with some of the fried foods I mention. Anyway…check out the other countries for some interesting food stuffs.

    http://www.one-at-all.blogspot.com/

  10. 10 inadvertentgardener October 10, 2006 at 6:05 am

    Brilynn, are you planning to make the gnocchi from scratch? Sounds yummy!

    Kalyn, you should definitely do something with it — chard is so delicious!

    Cole, that sounds like an excellent variation…I’ll give that a whirl, too. Thanks for the tip on the other blog — I’ll check that out, for sure. Sounds very interesting!

  11. 11 Lisa Morgan October 10, 2006 at 8:39 am

    That looks just delicious! I adore gnocchi — and chard — so what could be better? I will have to try it.

  12. 12 inadvertentgardener October 10, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Lisa, I hope you do. Let me know how it turns out!

  13. 13 sher October 11, 2006 at 11:41 am

    Wow!! That is some fantastic chard there! Well, your dish is fantastic too. I love gnocch and that makes my mouth water.i

  14. 14 tastetheseasons June 10, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing; we’ve just begun to explore the possibilities with chard that we get from the farm, and this is definitely something we’ll have to considering trying, if the chard harvest continues to prove bountiful through the season here in the Southwest.

    -Krystle
    http://www.TasteTheSeasons.com

  15. 15 inadvertentgardener June 11, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Sher, it’s definitely worth a try…very tasty!

    Krystle, I encourage you to do so. Farm-grown chard…yum! Thanks for stopping by. :-)

  16. 16 layingturf March 13, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Man that looks tasty. My own sad, sad efforts look worse by the minute! I have to confess a massive weakness for home grown veggies cos I grew up with them at my dad’s house. I’m trying to keep the spirit the alive and have my first batch of broccoli to harvest soon – so fingers crossed!

  17. 17 inadvertentgardener March 14, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Layingturf, your own broccoli ready to go soon? I’m so jealous!

  18. 18 layingturf March 26, 2008 at 10:33 am

    I wish I could say it was down to green fingers – I actually planted it in the summer last year. I don’t know how it made it through the winter (or even if it’s supposed to!) I just know I’ve got some nice purple sprouting heads to cook sometime soon…

  19. 19 Helen Madrid April 2, 2008 at 8:43 am

    I LOVED this site,
    I can’t find the red chard ,please help Thanks

  20. 20 Helen Madrid April 2, 2008 at 8:45 am

    I loved this site
    I can’t find the seeds for the red chard, only the white
    Please help, Thanks ,Helen

  21. 21 inadvertentgardener April 5, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Layingturf, that’s pretty cool — impressive!

    Helen, I think a quick Google search ought to get you just what you need. Thanks for visiting and for the comment!


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  3. 3 Kraft Recipes » Blog Archive » Recipe for Swiss Chard and Mushroom Squares Trackback on February 21, 2008 at 9:36 pm
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