A distraught four-year-old girl came running into the house and announced to her mother, “Mom, Lisa won’t let me eat the sheep shower.” Jerri and our son and daughter were visiting their grandmother in Rosalia, Kansas. Since Jerri had grown up eating the shamrock-shaped leaves of this beautiful flower with her friends, she had naturally taught Jocelyn that it made a good snack between meals.
However, Jerri’s niece Lisa, who was babysitting Jocelyn, did not know that sheep shower was edible and did what a good babysitter was supposed to do–prevented her charge from poisoning herself. This led to the crisis which Jerri quickly resolved by showing her teen-aged niece that sheep shower was safe to eat and really quite tasty.
I don’t know if Lisa ever developed a liking for sheep shower, nor is it one of my favorite vegetables, but I grew up with parents who believed that God gave us wild greens so we did not have to grow everything in the garden. So we had fern fiddleheads and dandelion greens in early spring and lambs quarters when we pulled the young weeds throughout the summer.
Some people say that lambs quarters taste a bit like Swiss chard, which is rated as one of the most nutritious vegetables available. Swiss chard is tied with spinach as a healthful addition to your diet, but chard has a more delicate flavor. This relative of the common beet is very low in calories but has lots of calcium, iron and vitamin C. It has almost no fat, but you can take care of that deficiency if you follow this recipe.
2 lbs. green Swiss chard (a large bunch with about ten leaves with the stems)
2 T olive oil
2 T unsalted butter
1 large onion ( at least 4 inches in diameter)
2 or 3 large cloves of garlic
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Water as needed
Wash the chard and trim the stalks at the cut ends. Strip the leaves downwards from where the stems are about 3/16 inch in diameter. Cut the stems into pieces about an inch long and set them aside in a bowl. Roll or pile the leaves and cut them into one inch strips. Set these aside in another bowl.
Clean and cut the onion in half lengthwise, then thinly slice each half. Clean and mince the garlic.
Heat the butter and olive oil over low heat in a large skillet or frying pan. Add the onion, about a quarter teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir well to mix the spices and oil with the onion. Cover the pan and cook the onion for about eight minutes, stirring it occasionally.
Turn the heat up to medium and stir in the chopped stems and minced garlic with a half teaspoon of salt and about a quarter teaspoon of pepper. Cover and cook for another eight minutes, again stirring the mixture occasionally. If the pan appears dry, add a couple of teaspoons of water.
Now add the chopped leaves. If the pan is big enough, just stir them all in at once and cover the pan. If you have too many leaves to put in the pan at once, add them in batches, stir them a few seconds until they wilt, then add more until you have them all in the pan. Finish the chard by cooking another four or five minutes.
If you don’t like cooked spinach but know that you should be eating leafy green vegetables to protect your brain, heart, lungs, legs, arms, eyes and other essential parts of your body, try this recipe. Chard has a mild taste complemented by the olive oil and butter that we find delicious.
Serve as a low carb side dish and offer vinegar as a condiment. Jerri likes a dash of vinegar on both spinach and Swiss chard.
NOTES: Chard begins wilting as soon as it is picked from the garden, so plan to use it that same day if possible. If you store it in the refrigerator, it will be wilted but perfectly usable even two days after it is harvested. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator; warmed, they are still very tasty.
I try to avoid recipes that use lots of dishes, but you can simply rinse out the bowls as you empty them. Simple and efficient. There is only one pan to wash.