In the early 1940s, my parents rented a house in New Philadephia, Ohio, where my father had found a job with the WPA. They had a big lawn in the back, and they turned it into a victory garden. When I found some lovely chard at the Farmer’s Market, I thought that was probably one of the vegetables they grew.
So I set out to find a vintage recipe for chard. Unfortunately, chard doesn’t show up in any of the 1930s or 1940’s cookbooks I checked, except sometimes lumped with other greens and always called Swiss Chard. But the most promising source for vegetable recipes from the era (and for today) is the booklet called 250 Ways to serve Fresh Vegetables, published in 1940 by the Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago.
Although chard was not one of the 250–a recipe for an egg sauce for spinach would do just as well. And I liked that it uses white sauce, which I argue is the first thing that any newcomer to the kitchen should learn to make, for its versatility. Adding hard boiled eggs adds nutrition and some interesting texture to the creamed chard.
So I cooked some eggs and stuck them in the fridge to use the next day in the planned chard with egg sauce. Best laid plans…..When I took the eggs out, they were NOT hard cooked–but still runny. I don’t know what went wrong, but they went into the trash, and I served the chard with a plain white sauce instead. And it was delicious anyhow.
I have to admit that I’m kind of a snob about doing as little as possible to vegetables, so while many people swear by creamed spinach, I generally prefer my greens boiled or sautéed with a bit of seasoning and maybe some bacon. But I’m a convert. Love this recipe for creamed chard–and next time I’ll make sure the eggs are hard cooked.
|Prep time||30 minutes|
|Cook time||40 minutes|
|Total time||1 hours, 10 minutes|
|Allergy||Egg, Milk, Wheat|
|Meal type||Side Dish|
|Misc||Child Friendly, Serve Hot|
|From book||250 Ways to Cook Vegetables (1940) Culinary Arts Institute|
- 1lb chard
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups half and half or whole milk (warmed to room temperature)
- salt and pepper to taste (white pepper is preferred)
- 2 eggs (hard cooked)
|Cooking the chard|
|1.||Wash chard well, shake off excess water and cut stems in 2-inch lengths. Tear or cut leaves in roughly 3 inch pieces|
|2.||Boil water in a large pot. Put stems in boiling water and cook 15 minutes. Add leaves and cook another ten minutes. Stir occasionally. When you can easily pierce the stems with a fork, drain chard thoroughly. Set aside|
|White sauce with eggs|
|3.||Melt butter in large skillet or saucepan.|
|4.||Whisk in flour, gradually, not allowing lumps.|
|5.||stir in salt and pepper|
|6.||Chop boiled egg and stir into sauce.|
|7.||Squeeze any moisture that has accumulated out of the chard, chop it finer if you wish, and add to the white sauce. Stir just until heated through and serve immediately.|
The cooking time for the chard will vary depending on how large it is. Younger chard with thing stems cooks up best. Older chard with very wide stems may continue to be fibrous even after cooking.
This can be made without the eggs as a plain white sauce.
We had Swiss chard all the time when I was growing up. It apparently was one of the staples in my grandfather and father’s victory garden (probably originally a depression garden!) It was one vegetable my mother never fooled with – just wash and tear the leaves (we didn’t use the stems, but they went on the compost) and put them in a big pot, cover and cook until the leaves are tender, plate them up with butter (earlier oleo with its little packet of coloring squeezed in) and salt. I’ve cooked it that way for years, but now I’m on warfarin and I can’t even eat a smidgen without making my blood too thick. That and spinach are lost to me now, but I get to eat a limited amount of broccoli or brussels sprouts every day – with butter and salt, just like my very favorite Swiss chard.