The National Trust were having a Heritage Open Day on Saturday, 12 September and we took the opportunity to visit Osterley House, set in Osterley Park. We’d both been to the park but had never set foot inside the house and we were pleasantly surprised to thoroughly enjoy our visit – perhaps we’ll take visitors there next time. The surrounding park is huge and consists of not only the manicured gardens but also working farms (we always take the time to pat the horses). The existence of these farms also results in a farm shop filled with lots of magnificent fresh produce, located near the parking lot.

I bought a few bits and bobs from the shop but was totally indecisive over a massive bagful of Swiss chard going for a song. How was I going to carry this home on my bicycle? Well, we found a way:

How to Transport Swiss Chard

With pinenuts and raisins at home, I knew what I’d do with our new treasure. With the leaves, I made a Catalan Style dish to go alongside a tortilla I made with the colourful stems. It’s not necessary to separate the stems when making this dish though – I just liked the idea of a full Swiss chard dinner! Anyway, this makes for a lovely vegetable side dish, with the sweetness of the raisins and nuttiness from the pine nuts complimenting the greenery. Spinach is a good substitute for the chard, but use lots as it shrinks more.

Catalan Style Swiss Chard

Catalan Style Swiss Chard
serves 2 as a side dish.

500g Swiss chard
30g pine nuts, lightly toasted
30g black or golden raisins
1 clove garlic, minced or finely sliced
2 tbsps olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the raisins in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Wash your Swiss chard and cut the thick stems from the leaves. You can either save the stems for another dish or slice them and boil them and add them later with the boiled leaves (the stems take longer to boil). Chop the leaves into smaller pieces and blanch them in boiling water until tender (you may need to do this in batches). Drain, squeezing out the water, and set aside.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pinenuts and soaked raisins and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and continue sauteing until the garlic is fragrant. Add the cooked Swiss chard and continue sauteing for another couple minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and then serve.

Botifarra amb mongetes

Botifarra amb mongetes is a classic Catalan dish of sausage with white beans – though they are a particular kind of bean that is quite long and cylindrical. Not much to report in terms of a recipe: grill sausages of your choosing (I used a 97% pork sausage that was lovely and meaty and I think are most like Catalan sausages) and boil your beans. I found a jar of these boiled beans at a local shop; they were a Spanish brand and were definitely mongetes, as Blai confirmed, but any other white bean would be a good substitute. And eat the beans with lots of extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top!

Swiss Chard

We had bledes (Swiss chard) on the side, you know, for health reasons. Gotta eat our veggies! Anyway, I made them in a sort of Spanish style, using some of that lovely pimentón, the smoked paprika from La Vera. Now for this dish I can provide a recipe.

Spanish-Style Swiss Chard
adapted from Food and Wine magazine
serves 2.

a large bunch of Swiss chard
extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
1/4 – 1/2 tsp Pimentón de la Vera
1/4 cup chopped canned tomatoes (optional)
1 tsp sherry vinegar
salt and pepper

Slice up the entire bunch of chard, both stalks and leaves, and clean it all thoroughly. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the chard until tender. Drain and press out excess water.

In a pan, heat up a good swirl of olive oil and fry the garlic slices until golden. Add the pimentón and tomatoes (if using) and cook for a few minutes (less time if just using the pimentón). Add the Swiss chard and stir thoroughly, adding a little water if it’s all looking too dry. When the chard has been heated through, add the sherry vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.