Pam’s Garden

My mom’s friend and neighbor Pam recently invited me to take a tour of her garden.  She lives in a rural part of Illinois, so for a city girl like me spending a day surrounded by tangled vines, busy bumble bees and heirloom produce was a real treat.

The garden was full of earthy carrots, shiny eggplant, crunchy beans and squash of many shapes and sizes.  Every corner was used – cabbage sprouting in between stepping stones was a fun sight.  I love living in the heart of a city, but I certainly miss having a garden like Pam’s.

As we walked her garden, Pam reminisced about childhood summer days spent at her grandparents’ Michigan farm.  Before the kids could have fun and hit the beach they had to help out in the garden, so I’ll guess this is where Pam developed her love for fresh, homegrown fruits and veggies.

After a morning spent harvesting and admiring the fruits of her labor, Pam taught me how to make an Italian Swiss chard dish using an old family recipe.  We served it alongside a salmon main course my mom made.  Truly a summer meal!

Pam’s Swiss Chard and Pancetta

Olive oil

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press

4 oz chopped pancetta

6 roma tomatoes, chopped

A few sprigs of fresh thyme, optional

1 big bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves torn

Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pan.  Add onion and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent and fragrant.  Add pancetta and stir a bit.  Once the pancetta starts to cook, add the chopped tomatoes.  Stir.  Drop in the thyme sprigs, if using.

Add the chard and cover.  Cook until the chard is wilted, about 10 minutes.  Top with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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1 Comment for this entry

  1. I’ve never cooked with Swiss chard before, but I’ve been seeing it at our farmer’s market. I might buy some and try this recipe. It looks really good!

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