June 23, 2018
With hot summer days life traditionally moves to the coastal areas, or if the latter is not possible then the coast moves inland in a form of fish, salads, fresh herbs and chilled, slightly sour elegant wines.
Chard (blitva) and potato mixed with fresh garlic and olive oil, on its own or served with fish as a side dish is something one can encounter almost as a staple from the north to the south of the eastern Adriatic coast.
This simple, healthy dish is easy to prepare, and as with most of the summer recipes the key thing is the freshness of its ingredients.
1/5 kg fresh chard
4 cloves of garlic
4-5 tbsp. of olive oil
Salt to taste
White meat sea fish (optional)
Half a kilo of chard looks quite a lot, but keep in mind that if you cut it and stuff a pot to the top with it and put a lid on so that is all stays inside, it will, once cooked, collapse to ¼ of its initial volume. Chard is fresh and young if its leaves are crispy and tend to snap, although wilts quite easily so if one or two leaves in a bunch appear a bit limp that is no cause for concern. Usually, smaller leaves are younger and tenderer, but big ones work just fine, since we will cook it instead of eat it raw. Also, if you see some bugs running across it, that is a rather good sign, as it indicates that no pesticides were used, and you’ll have to wash it anyway, leaf by leaf.
After it’s washed thoroughly, cut the chard and put it in a pot.
Add 2dl of water or little more if you’re worried about burning it, put it on a stove, and boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, until it all collapses.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, cut it in chunks, place in a separate pot, cover with water, add some salt and boil till soft.
When both potatoes and chard are cooked, drain them, add potatoes to the chard, then the chopped garlic, oil and salt to taste.
Stir all the ingredients and check if more salt or olive oil need to be added.
If you'll be making a fish as well, we recommend you choose either a gilt-head bream (orada) or a sea bass (brancin), both priced between 9 and 16 EUR per kilo, depending on whether you are buying farmed or wild fish.
The simplest way of preparing it is in a pan: wipe the fish dry, coat it in flour and fry on a bit of oil with a lid on at a moderate temperature for about 5 - 10 minutes on each side. Before you fry it, you can put some chopped garlic, parsley and lemon juice inside the fish, in the space where its organs once were..
Orada from the Ljubljana Fish Market