I’ve waited 6 months for this moment. For real. That’s how long it’s been since our spring grown Swiss chard gave up. (I don’t blame it though. Florida’s summers are a-holes.) And since then, I’ve been craving roasted chard topped with soft half-melted feta. Sounds weird. I know.
The funny thing is I didn’t even know if I liked chard when we picked it up in a nursery last March. It just looked pretty with its yellow, red, and pink stems. My three year old daughter, whose favorite color is pink (despite my best efforts to talk her out of it), fell in love. She asked if we could put it in our garden, and I was psyched that she might possibly maybe consider trying it—something green. So we brought the plant home and stuck it next to the peas.
Then I forgot about it. I didn’t water it specifically or fertilize it. I didn’t check it for the man eating mutant caterpillars that ate their way through the 10 tomato plants and entire bean patch. Yet, it thrived. That Swiss chard plant was one of the easiest things we grew last spring, and it got so big and lush, I realized we’d have to eat it at some point.
Enter this amazing Roasted Swiss Chard and Feta recipe and life was changed. My husband and I devoured an entire sheet pan. Chard was now a staple in our garden.
Harvesting chard is simple, just cut the stems off at the base like you would for any leaf lettuce or greens. But if you want it to live to produce crop after crop, and you want it to look nice when it grows back in, don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made.
The first time I had a cut and come again mixed greens pot, I harvested all the leaves for a gigantically delicious salad. No, not kidding. There was no “again” that season. The next time I had a leaf lettuce plant, I harvested all the leaves from one side of the plant at a time. The result was Quasimodo.
At some point, I realized that new growth comes from the center of the plant. (Yeah, duh.) That it’s best to harvest the outer lower leaves, cutting low on the stem with sharp scissors, working your way in towards the middle of the plant. Then the new baby center leaves will eventually grow up and petal out and fill the space created by removing the outside leaves. The plant will grow back evenly round and stay healthy since you are removing the older leaves, which are more prone to disease.
For chard, you want to make sure to untangle the stems the stems before cutting. Ours had practically braided itself so it was difficult to tell which were the outer leaves. Not that it ultimately mattered since we ended up harvesting most of the plant. It’s all good though. Dinner will be extra delish and that puny, runty chard to the left will finally have a chance at some sun.
Wash the Swiss chard and let it air dry in a cool place. When it’s dry, store in a loose, open plastic bag in the fridge for up to 10 days.