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How to use up chard stalks | Waste not


I’m not sure what’s tastiest, the leaf or stalk of chard. If you get hold of a bunch that’s a bit on the stalky side, rather than endure too much stalk with your wilted greens, double your money and save the stems to make a separate meal altogether.

They make a wonderful gratin baked with cream, wholegrain mustard and parmesan until golden and tender. Or slice them raw into salads – they work a treat instead of celery in a Waldorf salad mixed with walnuts, apples, grapes and mayo – or braise themin olive oil, add some beans to bulk them out and create something comforting, rich and satisfying. And if you ever have leftover cooked chard, it’s great re-fried with olive oil, garlic and capers, then stirred into a stew or turned into a pie filling.

Chard stems and beans with lemon zest and breadcrumbs

This makes a great lunch served with bread, and also sits equally well as part of a grander offering of mixed plates. Keep chard fresh by storing it upright in a jar of water like a bunch of flowers, or in a sealed container or plastic bag in the fridge with a piece of paper or a cloth to absorb excess moisture. If you don’t manage to use your chard in time and it starts to wither or brown, don’t fret: it’s still perfectly fine to use.

3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
, lightly bashed, skin on
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
200g chard stalks
(with or without the leaves), cut into 3cm lengths
2 tbsp white wine (or 2 tsp white-wine or cider vinegar)
1 x 400g tin borlotti (or cannellini or butter) beans

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To serve
Breadcrumbs, lemon zest, chopped parsley and/or capers, extra-virgin olive oil

Gently heat the oil in a heavy-based pan set over a medium-low flame. Add the two bashed garlic cloves and therosemary, stir, then add the sliced chard stalks and saute gently for five minutes. If you have a bottle of white wine open, add a 25ml glug (or, to add a little acidity, two teaspoons of white-wine or cider vinegar), then stir in the canned beans and their liquor and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat and simmer for five to 10 minutes. Remove the lid, cook until the liquid begins to thicken, then season and serve topped with lemon zest, breadcrumbs and chopped capers or parsley.



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