Lamb Chops with Braised Chard & Mint

I am going to share a little secret with you. If you love lamb chops but are the kind of guy who is not very keen on fat, then you will probably love the very expensive cut of trimmed rack of lamb. You are probably looking at about £30 a kilo, and that is not cheap. However, check out your local Halal butcher. (Often found inside Arabic shops which have lots of fruit and veg outside. There are at least three in Morden.) They more than likely sell these fabulous little lamb chops, completely trimmed of all their fat. They might not look quite as professionally butchered as a French trimmed rack, but they are half the price and chuck them on the BBQ, they taste absolutely delicious, no one is going to care what they look like anyway.

Lamb Chops with Braised Chard & Mint

Serves 2

10 lamb chops (I allow about 5 chops per person)

For chard

1 bunch Swiss chard (1 lb)

1 large red onion, finely sliced

2 garlic clove, very finely chopped

Small bunch mint

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Zest from 1 lemon

Cut stems and center ribs from chard, discarding any tough portions, then cut stems and ribs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stack chard leaves and roll into cylinders. Cut cylinders crosswise to make 1-inch-wide strips. Wash and drain well. Cook the onion in olive oil, gently, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and chard stems and ribs, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until stems are just tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in chard leaves and water and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more. Add the chard and season with salt and pepper and cook down until well wilted. Whilst the chard cooks, grill your seasoned chops. Add the mint and lemon to the chard and check for seasoning. Serve with the chops.

Swiss Chard and Herb Tart with Fresh Goat’s Cheese

We all get a bit stuck in our comfort zone and when scaning through new recipes, I must admit I have a tendency to stick to the familiar, so I nearly bypassed this Ottolenghi recipe I found when looking for a new way of using up chard. For a start it was called Swiss Chard and Herb Tart with Young Cheese, and I knew for sure that I did not have any “young cheese” lying around in my fridge, nor was I very likely to be able to get hold of any very easily in the culinary void of Wimbledon. Secondly, I wasn’t sure about the mint. I am always a little wary of cooking mint. I little too much and it can end up tasting like toothpaste. I wasn’t sure about the quantities of the ingredients – follow the net weights not the descriptions. 8 large chard leaves turned out to be a whole bag of chard from Riverford. And finally I didn’t have any courgette flowers – too early in the year for my allotment. But I decided to make it anyway and I am really pleased that I did. It is absolutely delicious, even without the courgette flowers. For the young cheese, I used a Abergavenny goat’s cheese that I found in Sainsbury’s.

Swiss chard and herb tart with young cheese

Adapted from Yotem Ottolenghi. Serves four as a main course.

½ small red onion, thinly sliced (85g net)

3 celery stalks and leaves, thinly sliced (220g net)

8 large chard leaves, roughly chopped, white stalks discarded (175g net)

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tbsp torn mint leaves

2 tbsp chopped parsley

2 tsp chopped sage

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

75g feta, crumbled

50g pecorino, finely grated

15g pine nuts, lightly toasted

Grated zest of 1 lemon

350g all-butter puff pastry, I used ready rolled

100g brocciu cheese (fresh cheese) or ricotta or fresh goat’s cheese

6 Courgette flowers, cut in half length-ways (optional)

1 egg, lightly beaten

Salt and black pepper

Place a large frying pan on medium-high heat and sauté the onion, celery, chard, garlic, mint, parsley and sage in the olive oil. Cook, stirring continuously, for 15 minutes or until the greens are wilted and the celery has softened completely. Remove from the heat and stir through the feta, pecorino, pine nuts, lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon of salt and a hearty grind of black pepper. Leave aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Roll the pastry, if necessary to a 3mm thick sheet and cut it into a circle, approximately 30cm in diameter. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Spread the filling out on the pastry leaving a 3 centimetre edge all the way around. Dot the filling with large chunks of brocciu, ricotta or fresh goat’s cheese.  Top with courgette flowers, if using. Bring the pastry up around the sides of the filling and pinch the edges together firmly to form a secure, decorative lip over the edge of the tart. Alternatively press with the end of a fork. Brush the pastry with egg and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Bake the tart in the oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked on the base. Remove from the oven and brush with a little olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.



Inzimino di Ceci – Chickpeas with Swiss Chard

When Rose Grey was serving this dish up at the River Café over 25 years ago, most people in England didn’t even know what Chard was. Now a days we are so much more educated and I grow so much of the stuff on my allotment I barely know what to do with it. This simple dish of chard and chickpeas is a great way of using it up.

Inzimino di Ceci – Chickpeas with Swiss Chard

Adapted from The River Cafe

Serves 6-8

175 g (6 oz) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (or use 2 tins)

1 large garlic clove, peeled

1 tin good quality plum tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced

6 tablespoons olive oil

900 g (2 lb) Swiss chard leaves, washed and large stems removed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces

2 dried chillies, crumbled

250 ml (8 fl oz) white wine

3 handfuls flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Extra virgin olive oil

Drain the chickpeas and place in a saucepan with water to cover, add the garlic, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Keep in their liquid until ready to use. Fry the thinly sliced garlic in some good olive oil until light golden brown. Add the tinned tomatoes with some water to rinse out the tin and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and gently reduce. Blanch the chard, cool, squeeze out excess water and chop coarsely.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the onion and carrot, cook slowly for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Season with salt, pepper and chilli. Pour in the wine and reduce almost completely. Add the tomato sauce and reduce until very thick. Add the chard and chickpeas and mix. Season and cook for 10 minutes. Chop two thirds of the parsley leaves, and add to the mixture with the lemon juice. Serve sprinkled with the whole parsley leaves and a little extra virgin olive oil.

Mushrooms and Chard with Baked Eggs and Parmesan

I love baked eggs. This is a really healthy version with plenty of veg and makes a quick lunch or light supper.

Mushrooms and Chard with Baked Eggs & Parmesan

Serves 2

I head swiss chard, leaves and stems separated

Extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

300g mushrooms, roughly sliced

100ml double cream

Pinch of chilli flakes

4 medium organic free-range eggs

100g grated parmesan

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chop the chard stems and boil with the leaves in a large pan of salted boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove the chard with a slotted spoon and spread out to cool in a large colander. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, then add the onion. Cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes until softened. Next add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated and they begin to fry. Season well with salt and pepper.  Then add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Squeeze the excess water from the chard and roughly chop. Add to the mushrooms and stir well. Add the cream and the chilli and bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat and check the seasoning. Tip into a gratin dish.

Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Make 4 indentations in the mixture and crack an egg into each one, gently pushing the yolks down with the back of a spoon so they’re covered by white. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 15-20 minutes until the eggs are just set. Eat straightaway with sourdough toast.

Potato, Leek, Chard and Blue Cheese Pie

I am going through a bit of a pie faze at the moment. Everything I make just seems to have to have a layer of puff pastry on top. My latest is this delicious Potato, Leek, Chard and Blue Cheese Pie. It is a bit heavy on the carbs but since it is packed with healthy vegetables, it is a great way of helping you get your 10-a-day too!

Potato, Leek, Chard and Blue Cheese Pie

Depending on the chard, you could use the stems too. Chop them up and blanch them with the leaves. Feel free to play around with the vegetables – a combination of pretty much anything would work, but the addition of mushrooms might be particularly nice!

600g Maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into 4cm chunks

75g butter

2 leeks, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 head of chard

1 packet ready rolled all butter puff pastry

200g blue cheese, crumbled

1 egg, yolk only

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until tender. Drain, allow to steam-dry for a few minutes, then mash roughly. Stir in 25g butter and season. Cover and leave to cool. Remove the leaves of the chard from the stems. Cook in a pan of boiling salted water for about 2-3 minutes. Remove the chard with a slotted spoon and spread out on a dry, clean tea towel. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess liquid. Roughly chop the chard. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft and beginning to caramelise. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more and finally add the chard leaves. Stir well, season and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Spoon in the mashed potato into a pie dish. Scatter the blue cheese over the top and then the leeks. Lay a piece of puff pastry over the top and trim round the sides. Press down the edges with a fork to seal. Whisk the egg yolk and brush the top of the pie. You can chill the pie at this stage and bake the next day. Cut a few slits in the top of the pie so the steam can escape. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden. Serve hot or warm.

Pancakes Stuffed with Swiss Chard and Ricotta

I make my kids pancakes pretty much every day for breakfast. I make up a large batch of mix and keep it in the fridge so that I can make them in minutes in the morning before school. So I was a bit taken aback by the amount of fuss they made because I had forgotten pancake day! So, without any more delay here is a savoury recipe which will help you use up your veg box as well as, hopefully, keeping the kids quiet. This filling is based on the ravioli fillings that we used to make at The River Café. Luckily pancakes are a lot easier, less fiddly and quicker to make than Ravioli. You can use any leafy greens in place of the chard and if you want to re-heat them, then sprinkle the pancakes with parmesan and heat them through in the oven.

Pancakes Stuffed with Swiss Chard and Ricotta

½ pt milk

1 egg

4oz Flour


1 head Swiss Chard

1 onion

1 large clove garlic

Large knob of butter

Lemon zest

250g ricotta

Large handful of freshly grated parmesan

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put a pan of salted water on to boil.

Make pancakes. Add the whisked egg to the milk and gradually add to the flour in a large bowl. Use a folk to slowly incorporate the flour. When you have added half the milk, whisk the batter to remove any lumps, before adding the remaining milk.

Strip the leaves from the chard. Cut up the stalks quite finely. Chop the onion finely. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the onion. Cook gently for about 10 minutes without any colour. Meanwhile cook the leaves in the boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove and spread out on a clean tea towel. Add the stalks to the water and again cook for a few minutes. Drain. When the chard is cool enough to handle, use the tea towel to squeeze out any extra water. Roughly chop the chard. Add the chard stalks and the chard to the onion and fry gently for a few minutes. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before stirring in the ricotta, the parmesan and the lemon zest. Adjust seasoning to taste. Keep warm.

Cook the pancakes in a large non-stick frying pan. Add a small knob of butter each time.  Cook until golden brown each side. When your pancakes are cooked, fill them with your chard mixture and serve immediately. Any pancake batter left over can be kept in the fridge for a few days and used as you need it.

Meatballs with Warm Yoghurt and Swiss Chard

I have to admit that I am not very good at trying new recipes. If I do choose a new recipe, it is usually similar to something that I have tried before. I suppose at my age, I put it down to taste and experience. I know what I like and I know what is likely to turn out well. But we can become a bit safe, a bit boring, never trying something that really sounds a little bit out of your safety zone.

With this recipe, I just heard the words “warm yoghurt” and I panicked.  I mean, it just sounds like it is going to curdle. I was about to opt for a safer option – lamb meatballs with braised chard, pitta and yogurt but I stopped myself. After all this recipe is Yotam Ottelenghi from his massively successful restaurant “Nopi” so who was I to question why. Warm yoghurt – why? So I made it.  To tell you the truth, I would have preferred my original idea, but this is for all the more adventurous of you.

Meatballs with Warm Yoghurt and Swiss Chard

1kg lamb mince

150g fresh breadcrumbs

70g pine nuts, toasted

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp dried mint

4 tsp ground allspice

4 garlic cloves, crushed

60ml olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped (120g)

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely diced

300g Swiss chard, white stalks removed and green leaves roughly shredded (120g)

300ml chicken stock

40ml lemon juice

500g Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with 2 tsp water

1 egg, lightly beaten

seeds of 1 medium pomegranate (150g) (optional)

20g coriander leaves, roughly chopped

coarse sea salt and black pepper

Put the first six ingredients in a large bowl with half the allspice, half the garlic, two teaspoons of salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper. Mix to combine, then shape into 5cm-wide meatballs weighing 50g each. You should make about 24 balls.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan, add the onions and remaining garlic and fry on a medium heat for eight to 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onions have softened but not taken on any colour. Add the chilli and chard, cook for two to three minutes, until the chard has wilted, then stir in the remaining allspice, the stock and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.

Put the yoghurt, cornflour paste and egg in a large bowl with 150ml of water. Whisk to a smooth paste, then gradually spoon in the hot chard mixture, stirring well after each addition, until well combined. Stir in two teaspoons of salt and a good crack of black pepper, and set aside.

Pour the remaining oil into a large, high-sided saute pan on a medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and fry for four minutes, turning a few times so they brown all over. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding a little more oil if need be.

Wipe down the pan and pour in the yoghurt sauce. Bring to a very gentle simmer on a medium-low heat – it should barely be bubbling – and stir continuously in one direction to prevent it curdling. Return the meatballs to the pan (they should just be submerged in sauce), cover and cook on a low heat for 20–25 minutes, until cooked through. Serve at once, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, if using, and coriander.

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free)

I am particularly pleased with my next recipe. I was planning to make a butternut squash lasagne, as I seem to have acquired a small collection of them in my veg drawer and off course I was going to layer up the usual tomato sauce, béchamel and roast butternut squash with the customary sheets of lasagne when I had a brain wave. Why not cut the butternut squash into thin slices and use them instead of the lasagne sheet, and create a gluten free lasagne?

Everyone these days seems to be making spaghetti with vegetables. In my experience, there is however one major flaw. As soon as your vegetable spaghetti is actually cooked enough to be palatable, it dissolves. Not surprising really, as it has to gluten to keep in together. But this is where my butternut squash lasagne comes into its own. It does not have to stay together and therefore can bake away until totally delicious. The whole family was really very pleasantly surprised.

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free).jpg 5

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free)

Serves 4

You can only use the top of the butternut squash for this recipe as it makes nice “lasagne sheets”, so you will need quite a lot. Use the rest of the squash for another recipe.

1 large butternut squash olive oil

For the tomato sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

2 garlic clove, finely chopped

400g can plum tomatoes

Finely chopped fresh rosemary

Large head of chard

2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

For the bechamel sauce

50g plain flour (use gluten-free flour for Celiacs)

50g butter

500mls milk

100g cheddar cheese or parmesan

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the butternut just where it begins to bulge so that you have a nice even cylinder shape.  Peel the butternut squash and cut with a mandolin into nice thin sheets.

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free) 3

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. In a pan, soften the onion in the oil for 5 mins, then add the celery and garlic and cook for 5 min more. Add the tomatoes, rinse out the tin with a little water and add that too. Add the rosemary. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon and leave to simmer, uncovered for 30 mins. Stir from time to time. You should be left with a thick purée. Season to taste.

Meanwhile, if the chard has a large stalk (this is not usually the case early in the season) separate the chard stalks from the leaves and chop both leaves and stalks roughly, keeping them separate. Add the stalks to a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 2–3 minutes, until tender. Remove the stalks with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the leaves to the boiling water and blanch briefly. Remove and spread out on a dry tea towel to cool. When cool use the tea towel to squeeze out as much water as possible. Cut the wet garlic or garlic into very thin slithers. Heat a little more olive oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic until just turning light golden brown. Add the Chard and season with salt and mix well. Fry briefly and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile make your béchamel. Begin by melting the butter gently – don’t over-heat it or let it brown, as this will affect the colour and flavour of the sauce. As soon as the butter melts, remove from the heat and add the flour. Stir well and return to medium heat and cook until your mixture resembles sand. Now add the milk and whisk. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and add your grated cheese. Season to taste with salt.

Assemble the lasagne. Put a thin layer of béchamel in your gratin dish and top with a layer of butternut squash sheets, Top with a layer of tomato sauce and some chard. Keep going finishing with a layer of butternut squash topped with béchamel. Bake for 30-40 mins, or until the lasagne is golden and bubbling.

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free)

Egg Florentine ( with Chard)

I often google recipes when I am looking for inspiration or information, usually just a starting point which I can develop on. Although there are a hell of a lot of bad recipes out there, I can usually rely on BBC food or Jamie Oliver or All Recipes UK to come up with a reasonable example of what I am looking for.  However, I was really shocked that nothing even half decent comes up when you google Hollandaise. All sorts of shocking suggestions – un-reduced vinegar, all sorts of weird flavourings, tarragon in a Gordon Ramsey recipe – that’s Béarnaise mate! and even mustard in a Jamie Oliver recipe – got his hollandaise mixed up with his mayonnaise. Scary!

This recipe is not entirely authentic however, apart from the hollandaise, as it replaces the spinach “Florentine” with chard. I am not sure why the food of Florence should necessarily be associated with spinach but apparently it has something to do with Catherine di Medici. Anyway, I was rather pleased with my variation, it makes a great brunch and if you are feeling particularly adventurous you could add an anchovy or two to the chard when it is braising.

Egg Florentine (With Chard) 3

Egg Florentine ( with Chard)

Serves 2

For the hollandaise sauce

½ an onion, very finely chopped

50mls white wine vinegar plus a splash for poaching the eggs

125g good quality butter, cut into cubes

2 free-range egg yolks

Sea salt

Squeeze of lemon

For the eggs Florentine

2 English muffins, split in half horizontally

2 large handfuls chard

4 very fresh free-range eggs

Put two saucepans with water on to boil.  Remove the chard stalks from the leaves and add the leaves to one pan of boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes or so. Remove with a slotted spoon and spread out on a dry tea towel to cool. Turn the heat of the saucepan right down low. When the chard is cool use the tea towel to squeeze out as much water as possible. Cut the garlic into very thin slithers. Heat a little more olive oil in another saucepan and fry the garlic until just turning light golden brown. Add the Chard and season with salt and mix well. Fry briefly and remove from the heat.

For the Hollandaise sauce, melt the butter slowly over a gentle heat or in a microwave. Once melted, remove from the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, very finely chop half an onion, add the vinegar and simmer until almost dry. You want one teaspoon of liquid to remain only. Sieve the onions and add the teaspoon on reduced vinegar to the egg yolks into a bowl. Place this over the gently simmering water from the chard and beat until just cooked. Gradually add the butter, very slowly. Add the clarified butter on the top first and only add the whey at the end if you need to thin the sauce. Add salt to taste and a little lemon juice. Turn the light off under the chard water and leave the bowl on top to keep warm.

Split the muffins and toast. Add a dash of white wine vinegar to the other pan and at a gentle rolling boil, carefully crack in your eggs. Cook until your liking and remove with a slotted spoon onto some kitchen paper.

Arrange the muffins halves on a plate, top with plenty of chard, then place a poached egg on top of each and pour the Hollandaise sauce over the top. Serve straight away.

Eggs Florentine (with Chard) 4


Chard and Anchovy Gratin

When I worked at the River Café, many moons ago, we had a small library of cook books which we were allowed to peruse at our leisure. This was well before the days when The River Café had cookbooks of their own. All I can remember is several books by the fabulous Marcella Hazan and very surprisingly, a book by Leslie Forbes called A Table in Provence. Why this was so shocking is that any cuisine that was not Italian was most scorned by Rose and Ruthie, who considered Italian food to be to only way. However we regularly used to make a dish from it called Chard and Rosemary Gratin, which we would serve along side some butterflied, marinated char-grilled leg of lamb. It was an absolute favourite of my friend and fellow chef, Jane Baxter who later when on to become the first head chef of the field kitchen at Riverford. So it is not surprising that if features in the first Riverford cookbook, written by Jane and Guy Watson. Chard will vary through out the season. Sometimes it appears to be all leaf and other times, all stalk. This is a great recipe for the latter as it uses all the chard and with that particular type of swiss chard appearing in the boxes this week, this is a great time to give this recipe a try.

Swiss Chard and Anchovy Gratin. 2

Chard and Anchovy Gratin

2 bunches Swiss chard, about 500-600g

a large knob of butter (about 50g)

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

6 anchovies

1 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp Parmesan, grated (I like to use a little more and even sprinkle some on)

salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 160°C/Gas 3.

Separate the chard leaves from the stalks and blanch them in a large pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain well, refresh under cold running water, then squeeze out excess water. Set aside. Cut the chard stalks across into 5mm strips. Bring the water back to the boil, add the chard stalks and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Drain the stalks and set aside, saving the water for later. Heat the butter in a pan, add the onion and cook gently for 15 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the anchovies, stirring until they dissolve. Return to the heat and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook very gently for 5 minutes. Slowly stir in the reserved chard stock until you have a thick sauce. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir the chard stalks and leaves into the sauce, together with the grated Parmesan and some black pepper. Transfer the mixture to a gratin dish and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden.