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Chard offers a rainbow of possibilities

Garlic, potatoes, olive oil and wilted chard, such as the rainbow variety shown here during a recent Kendall Yards Night Market in Spokane, make for a simple, flavorful and healthy side dish. (Adriana Janovich)
Garlic, potatoes, olive oil and wilted chard, such as the rainbow variety shown here during a recent Kendall Yards Night Market in Spokane, make for a simple, flavorful and healthy side dish. (Adriana Janovich)

Swiss, red or rainbow, chard is typical in Mediterranean cooking and the cuisine of the Adriatic.

It’s particularly popular in Croatia’s Dalmatia region, where it’s prepared simply and served as a side. Blitva with garlic, olive oil and potatoes is a traditional dish packed with nutrients. The recipe – loose and forgiving – really can’t be messed up. It’s so easy to make.

Cooking lessens the slight bitterness of the dark leafy greens, which are low in calories and rich in vitamins A, C and K. Potatoes add a creamy texture and balance the bite of the garlic.

The wilted chard is often served alongside grilled fish or squid. Evenings when I’m dreaming of Dubrovnik and swimming at Zrnovska Banja on the island of Korcula, I’ll make it as a main, savoring the simplicity of the dish right along with the memories of the sunlit sea.

Swiss Chard Dalmatian Style

4 or 5 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for serving if desired

5 to 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 pounds Swiss chard, rinsed with tough stems removed and tender stems and leaves torn into 2-inch pieces

Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Boil potatoes in salted water in a large saucepan until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Add oil to saucepan over medium-high heat and add garlic. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes.

Return potatoes to saucepan and cooking about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Mix in chard and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle additional olive oil on top for serving, if desired.

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