Swiss chard (or Swiss chard) is one of the oldest and most widely used herbs in Italian cuisine. In fact, in the Mediterranean basin, where it grows spontaneously, it is collected and consumed since prehistoric times. The original variety was obviously very different from the current ones: much smaller and weaker. But the Etruscans and Romans had already selected and cultivated multiple varieties, including one defined as “red.” What is precisely the variety that gave its name to the entire species and that the ancient Romans called vulgar beta. with the word beta (hence our chard or chard) comes from a Celtic term that means, precisely, red.
However, even in that case, the plant had nothing in common with the red chard you see in the photo. The reference was only to the vaguely reddish color of the root and some reddish veins in the veins.
Nowadays it is not necessary to force the imagination with the colors that we put on our plates. Modern selection systems allow us to obtain exceptional colors, beyond the green of traditional chard. As in the case of red chard, but also yellow and pink and intermediate shades. New colors that, we hope, will help to relaunch the consumption of these “herbs”, which are also a true concentrate of well-being, rich in mineral salts, vitamins and anthocyanins. Substances -the latter- with proven antioxidant properties, considered a kind of natural antidote against aging.
In fact, beets continue to be among the protagonists of our kitchens, although In the past, its consumption was much higher. To the point that the number of recipes that have been transmitted to us is astonishing: as high as they are unknown to most. In fact, beets are not only used as a garnish similar to our red chard. Am also excellent raw in salads, fried, gratin and stewed. They are also used as a support for rolls to be filled, as a filling for savory tarts, flans, cannelloni, tortelli and other pastas, as an ingredient in pasta and rice sauces, to prepare soups, creams and veloutés. They are even used in some desserts.
Not to mention that, from the humble spontaneous chard plant, over the centuries – in addition to the different varieties of garden chard – ribs, red turnips and sugar beets.
The recipe we propose has always been cooked with common green chard, as it obviously is. Nowadays it is also increasingly used. red chard that we offer you, but it must be said that it looks especially good with variety yellow.
Note that in Lazio there is another Swiss chard recipe that is apparently the same as this one (see the recipe here Fried red chard). The similarity, however, is only visual. In reality, it is a recipe from lower Lazio and Campania, very different in flavor from the Roman one that we offer you.
- 800 g red chard
- 2 salted anchovies (4 fillets), washed and filleted
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Wash and clean the chard, discarding the leaves or macerated parts of leaves, as well as the thickest and hardest terminal part of the stems. Then cut the stems where they join the leaves, removing the filaments, and throw them (the stems only) into boiling slightly salted water. Cook for 3-4 minutes after the water returns to a boil, then remove, cut into suitable pieces and drain very well.
- Cut the garlic into slices and fry for two minutes in a large frying pan with 4 tablespoons of oil. Add the 4 fillets (well boned) obtained from the two anchovies and mix them in the boiling oil, mashing them with the tines of a fork to dissolve the meat. Now add the cherry tomatoes cut into four parts, mix and let them season for 5 minutes with the lid on and over moderate heat.
- Chop the chard leaves and add them to the pan along with the boiled stems. Cover and leave for about ten minutes over medium-low (moderate) heat, stirring several times. Towards the end, taste and add salt if necessary.
- Finally, remove the lid, season with freshly ground pepper and add the chard to the pan. Continue stirring over fairly high heat until the cooking juices dry up, which should be moist, but not wet. Let the chard sit in the covered pan for about ten minutes before serving warm, almost hot.