Cooking Potato and Vegetable for Dinner with Blitve / Mangold / Swiss Chard
Among Healthy Foods Rich in Iron and B12
Women who want to eat healthily in pregnancy and children suffering with anemia can really benefit by the natural addition of this green leafy vegetable, Blitva. A healthy food rich in iron and B12, it's an especially good choice for pregnant women who wish to increase their levels of foods rich in folic acid. Resembling romaine lettuce, blitva is also a good choice for those who gain weight easily and looking for a lighter evening meal without feeling the least bit deprived. Instead of dieting, why not do what the people in Hrvatska love to do - eat blitva two or three times a week.
Especially when it's cooked fresh and with a nice full rich green color, it's come to be the best thing I ever ate for dinner - and either maintain my weight or even lose weight on. The vegetables are cooked in boiling water so minimal fat. By incorporating this dinner into the menu, my winter pants fit better, deeper more restful sleep (without having to digest heavy foods like meat and potatoes) but pleasantly full. This meal will also enrich your blood without depleting your pocketbook.
Here in the Mediterranean, blitve is often eaten for dinner with coarsely ground salt, freshly ground pepper and slathered with virgin olive oil, along with french bread, a slice of cheese or hard boiled egg, and a glass of wine. As food is a very important part of the culture here, many slim and attractive women (and men) know - feasting is fine - but for dinner, keep it light - and more often times than not, that means "BLITVE!"
Cleaning is Essential before its preparation: As it is usually sold in bundles, the whole bunch needs to be untied and generously rinsed in cold to room temperature water. The first batch of rinse could be a bit dirty. Allowing the leaves to soak awhile (be sure to move them around a bit and rub the stems individually, where dirt can sometimes hide. Then, you will need to change the water. First, remove the leaves, dump the water, fill the water again, and put the vegetables back in. Repeat this three times. Also not a bad idea to watch out for blades of grass (not tasty) and baby snails, since the young leaves are good food for them, too! (I usually put them outside, let them find another home.) The last water, after removing the blitve, can be used to wash potatoes. For a pound of blitve, two to three medium potatoes are enough. Remove the outside peels and "eyes" - black dots - and quarter them for faster cooking.
Once the leafy portion of the green vegetable is cleaned, the lower ends of its white spines are trimmed (just a tiny bit, it has strings like celery does when you chop its ends). After this, I remove the green leaves from the white stalk. Depending on its thickness, halve the white stalk for faster cooking.
I attached a link for cleaning fresh greens. I have never ever washed my blitva in vinegar - but if it's home grown (I buy mine) it couldn't hurt. (see below)
To to Clean Blitve or any dark green vegetable, especially if it's homegrown - to be 100% bug-free
- CVL for Racheli Chapter #6 Cleaning Leafy Vegetables - YouTube
A project of practical halacha videos for college students by college students in merit of our friend Racheli Maya Bat Shoshana's complete and quick recovery.
Green Grow the Rushes There
Cooked in boiled salted water, it is delicious when served steaming hot accompanied with boiled potatoes as mentioned above. If you decide to do this, put the potatoes in first. After a few minutes, add the white stalks, and lastly, the green leaves since they cook in the least amount of time. Be sure to leave the pot UNCOVERED or at least partly so, because a closed pot means brownish looking blitve! :( Just as delicious but less appetizing to look at upon the plate!
Final step. When the potatoes are softened and the blitve stems are no longer crunchy, REMOVE the potatoes and vegetables from your cooking pot with a slotted spoon and put them into a shallower pot. Remove everything - then salt, oil and pepper the blitve and cover it up with a lid! Let the flavors mingle. In about five to ten minutes, cut the green vegetables both lengthwise and crosswise like you would spaghetti for a young child - makes it easier to hold on your fork. Your dinner is ready to serve.
Some enjoy their lovely blitve with a clove or two of fresh garlic, but - it's entirely up to you. Again, it's a complete meal when served with french bread, a slice of cheese or hard boiled egg. Some make hrenovke (a type of Mediterranean hot dog) and accompany it with a glass of red wine, especially Merlot or Plavac Mali, which is what the locals prefer. Two or three pieces of bread are OK - you won't gain weight on this meal! Because it is so fibrous, it actually burns calories to digest it.
Swiss chard is chock full of vitamins (A, K, and C), dietary fiber and even protein. Its among those desirable foods rich in iron as well as being good for pregnant women for the double benefit of also being a food rich in folic acid. It's not difficult to grow your own patch of mangold / swiss chard / or any other green leafy vegetable (like romaine lettuce) in your backyard. With a little luck when shopping at the grocery store, you might be lucky enough to find blitve with long wispy root endings - roots - they can be placed in a dirt-filled tin can and positioned by the window. In clipping the stalk, measure a thumb's length upwards of the roots, and lovingly plant the entire lower section into the dirt. It's a hearty plant and will usually take to new soil without any problem.
Mangold, Blitva or Swiss chard - the same green, leafy vegetable - grows well in most temperate climates. They can flourish in both Spring and Autumn if the weather is fair enough. Rich in iron and rich in folic acid, it's good for pregnant women and helps prevent anemia. Homegrown or store bought, it's low in calories and economical, and a real goldmine of a healthy food to include in your diet.