Blitva (Swiss chard)

Blitva (Swiss chard)

The entire Adriatic area is peopled by folk who find it hard to imagine life without Swiss chard, so much so, in fact, that some have suggested (not entirely tongue in cheek) that this plant is of such importance for Croats, particularly those living by the sea, that it should form part of the new Croatian coat of arms. Blitva is best when young, when its leaves are thin and soft, of a bright green colour, and only some 10 cm long. Preparation of this much revered plant is simplicity itself: immersed in boiling water and allowed to cook for a brief spell, carefully drained and sprinkled with olive oil. It is often served with boiled potatoes, and sometimes they are cooked together, particularly when chard is no longer quite so young and tender. Thus prepared, it is most commonly eaten with fish.

Maja Danica Pečanić

New generations of Croatian gastronomes are using chard in new, more imaginative ways, often inspired by old and almost forgotten recipes. Savoury strudels and pies prepared with Swiss chard and fresh cheese; sauces for pasta made from boiled chard and basil; minced meat rolled into large leaves of chard and cooked gently in an oven; larger fish stuffed with chard and herbs...