With chard still going strong in the garden as frost warnings start sweeping into our area, I’m keen to put up more chard pesto for future meals. Pesto is so quick and easy to make, and freezing meal-sized batches in glass jars works really well.
My favourite chard to use for pesto is bright green Lucullus, but this weekend I made up a batch using our Rhubard Red Swiss Chard. It has an earthier flavour that my husband really likes, and I guess I prefer the lighter, brighter taste of Lucullus.
After quickly chopping the chard, stems and all, it’s straight into the bowl of the Cuisinart. I think pesto is very personal, so I don’t provide a proper recipe here, but also added to the mix at this point: walnuts, grated parmesan cheese, a bit of walnut oil (olive oil is the more traditional choice and also very good), lemon juice, fresh garlic and salt.
The garlic in this batch is also from our own garden, this being our first year to reap the rewards of planting hardneck garlic in the fall. In a year when a lot didn’t go well, this is especially sweet.
The ingredients are pulsed until things start to come together. Scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times during the process helps, as does adding as a little more oil or whatever else is needed to get the flavour and consistency that you want.
A batch of about a dozen big leaves made five cups or so of pesto; four cups went into jars (with a drizzle of oil on top before closing the lids) and into the freezer, the last cup was mixed up with pasta that day.
Chard Pesto ingredients
Chard leaves and stems
Walnut oil or olive oil
Several garlic cloves
Salt to taste
My kitchen island and other kitchen surfaces are covered in tomatoes, mostly green (because of those frosts), crookneck squash, some winter squash, and turnips from our garden. We’ve got abundant carrots and more chard and kale still to harvest, but I can’t handle anything else in the house right now. As I was going the easy route for supper with roasting a chicken tonight, I figured I could manage a quick gratin with the turnip and threw in some sweet potato for colour and to soften the flavour overall. Turnip on its own is a bit of an acquired taste, though I do like it (and my husband loves it).
Being in the mood for something incredibly easy, I opted for the quickest cheat there is in assembling a gratin: straight cream, with a bit of butter, grated nutmeg, salt and generous pepper. There are much more sophisticated turnip and sweet potato gratins out there, including one from Martha Stewart that looks rather good, and a delicious cheesy one from Back to Her Roots. I’ve got more turnips in my near future, so will be a little more creative next time and try one of those recipes. But the dead simple cream version was very nice, paired as it was with the roast chicken and potatoes, and some late-in-the-season sweet corn (on the cob). Definitely comfort food.