By mid-August, my kitchen is in a state of perpetual triage. Menu planning is on defense. What I cook everyday has more to do with using whatever’s getting too ripe, too overgrown, or taking too much room in the refrigerator. Take beans for example. My garden overflows with wax beans, purple romanos, green string beans, red noodle yard long beans. Bushes and runners, all of which need constant picking so that the plants don’t stop. Or the endless cherry tomatoes. Or the infamous zucchini and eggplant.
And then there are chard and potatoes. I am growing gorgeous yellow-stalked chard in my garden, which, like in French potagers is used for its color, a standout like a gorgeous flower. But the chard in question came from our CSA. As did the potatoes. Both are bumper crops this year and have been distributed in tremendous quantities (think about how to use 6 pounds of potatoes a week even stretched over a couple of months). I normally cook the greens shortly after I come home from the farm, just because those billowy bags of greens overwhelm the refrigerator and hide what else it might contain.
It’s also that time of year when the weather has shifted from hot and humid to a hint of crisp air, when night temperatures are lower and the skies are clear. The earthiness of this chard and potato curry makes it a great dish for a transitional season, though it is equally as effective made with sweet potatoes in late fall. I did not peel the potatoes, which made it a sturdier and earthier dish, but that’s a matter of personal preference. We liked the depth of flavor, which improved the next day (so you can make this ahead of time, except for the final addition of yogurt and cilantro). Now what am I going to do next week with another pound of chard and another few pounds of new potatoes?
Chard and Potato Curry adapted from an online recipe by River Cottage
I lb green chard
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, halved crosswise and sliced vertically into half moons
1 large clove garlic, chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, diced
¾-inch piece of fresh ginger, diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp yellow or brown mustard seed
¼ tsp ground turmeric
3 pods cardamom, crushed
8 small new potatoes, quartered
¼ c full-fat yogurt
1 plum tomato, chopped (or 1 tbsp puree)
A handful of cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper
Optional: handful of toasted peanuts or almonds
Wash and drain the chard. Cut the stems away from the leaves and slice them crosswise, Cut or tear the chard leaves. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a large wide pan that has a lid. Add the onion and cook until just becoming translucent.
Meanwhile, using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic, pepper, ginger and salt to a paste. Add it to the onions. Cook for about a minute, until aromatic. Add the spices and cook for a minute until well combined.
Add the chard stems and the potatoes and stir to coat them well in the aromatics, cooking them for about 5 minutes, Add water nearly to cover and cook, covered, until the potatoes are nearly tender, 5-8 minutes. Add the chard leaves and wilt them down.
Combine the yogurt and tomato, and add a little liquid from the pan to warm it up. Turn the heat to low on the vegetables and add the yogurt mixture. (Adding it without warming could cause it to curdle, and would turning up the heat at this point.)
Add the cilantro leaves, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.