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Chard is my favorite green leafy veggie, and in our summer garden we devote an entire raised bed to this nutritious botanical rainbow. In past years, we've tried growing collards and kale and spinach (all of which we love), but faced an unrelenting constant battle with the white flies that always seemed to overtake every last green leafy patch and we finally just gave up and said, "No. More." But....Rainbow Chard always did remarkably well with practically no effort whatsoever, hence it not only became one of our favorite things to grow, but our favorite summer garden item to eat all the time. We add chard to absolutely everything in the summer time, from morning omelets and lunchtime salads to simple dinner additions (sautéed with lots of garlic and onions) and within the past two years, we've been making large batches of this Rainbow Chard Spanakopita when we have an abundance of chard in mid summer. One batch of this lasts us for almost a week, and it never gets old. 

I know that health fads come and go, and every year there's always a new "super veggie" that levitates onto the natural health pedestal as being so much better than all the others and, "What are you waiting for?? Add this to ALL your smoothies!" headlines blanket social media. That's fine...I see it. I read about it. But my love and devotion of chard will never waver. I wade through my summer chard patch and whisper..."It's been you all along. You'll always be my veggie ally...don't let those headlines get you down"... Chard doesn't need fleeting headlines. It knows it's the best and doesn't need the constant praise to prove it. 

I developed a fondness for rainbow chard (and Swiss chard) in college. It was always cheaper than any of the other greens so that's what found it's way into my kitchen most of the time. I cooked with it constantly and I love the way it tastes. Slightly earthy with a subtle sweetness and a bit of a bitter undertone. Fast forward to graduate school and I'm still eating the heck out of this while learning that, nutritionally, chard really is the unsung and often overlooked nutrient dense green that nobody's eating. It's full of magnesium, potassium, calcium,  iron, zinc, fiber and phytonutrients, along with vitamin C and A and lots of vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for calcium absorption (something I really need), and I'm often always looking for extra sources of vitamin K in my diet to support bone health. The colorful stems (white, yellow and red) all contain nutrients as well, most notably carotenoids which are fantastic for eye health, and when I cook this up I'm always using the stems in every recipe too. 









Rainbow Chard Spanakopita is easy and forgiving. It takes the outline of a traditional spinach based Spanakopita but incorporates chard in place of the spinach. You can use either Filo or puff pastry, and traditionally a Spanakopita recipe calls for lots of butter (which is fine to use in this recipe as well - still works), however I prefer ghee so that's what I often use. Good quality cheese can make all the difference for a good batch too, so if you've got a good source for high quality feta - definitely opt for that. 

Rainbow Chard Spanakopita

3 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
2.5 pounds fresh Chard + stems, coarsely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
3 eggs
2 cups high quality sheep feta, cubed
1tsp sea salt
ghee for brushing
Frozen Filo, thawed and slightly chilled
Serves 8

In a very large skillet or deep pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes until onions just start to turn translucent. Add in the chard, one handful at a time and cook down slightly before adding in another handful. With each addition, fold over the leaves to mix with the garlic and onions. Continue adding in all of the chard until wilted and well mixed with the garlic and onions. Remove from heat and transfer to a colander. Press out as much moisture as possible with a large spoon. Let cool completely or leave overnight in the refrigerator. 

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9x13in dish. Once the mixture has completely cooled, mix in the eggs, dill, feta and salt until well combined. Melt the ghee slightly. Roll out the filo dough. Add 1 sheet to the bottom of the baking dish and brush lightly with ghee. Add another sheet and brush again with ghee. Repeat the process about 6 times. Add the chard mixture and distribute evenly. Continue adding the filo sheets, brushing lightly with ghee until you have about 9-10 sheets on the top. Brush the top layer with ghee. Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top layer of filo browns slightly. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve warm. Keeps well refrigerated for up to 1 week. 

Optional: top with sprigs of dill and basil to serve. 

 

Photos by Renee Byrd


If you keep a summer garden, then you no doubt notice that everything often comes in at once. We plant our tomato and basil together as "companion plants" in the garden and they seem to enhance the growth of one another. Plus - we use them together in so many recipes! When our tomato plants start producing those beautiful red tomatoes, it feels so time sensitive to use them up quickly before the squirrels get to them, and once picked they have a relatively short shelf life. Thus, making garden fresh pasta sauce is a go-to activity on summer weekends to use up a ton of tomatoes at once in a recipe that freezes well and is also great for a crowd. Get the recipe for my fresh tomato basil pasta sauce on the Suite One Studio Blog...

Is there anything more refreshing than early morning CCF tea sipping in oversized linen shirts with the first glimpse of warm sun rays on your face? July brings mornings when I love waking up before 6am to soak in these precious hours. We open up all the windows wide and start the fans blowing to cut the humidity that built up over night and absorb the early morning bird chirps that flood the neighborhood. During this month too...the oppressive southern humidity starts to settle in, the heat melts onto my skin and the garden is heavy with fresh, heavy, nutrient abundant veggies. Everything just feels thick and laden right now, and anything to take the edge off is most welcome. This time of year, my appetite really shifts into a scant reflection of what is once was six months ago, and I find myself craving more raw fresh fruits and veggies (which is not really great for my vata digestive tract on the regular...) and over the years I've found that the perfect solution to this predictable seasonal shift in digestion is incorporating CCF tea into my daily rotation. 

CCF Tea (Cumin, Coriander, Fennel), is a traditional Ayurvedic tea to support digestion and works as a tonic herbal support for any type of digestive seasonal shift. I find that when my diet shifts towards more raw foods (which are generally harder for the body to digest), my vata constitution has a harder time processing these foods. The combination of cumin, coriander and fennel naturally helps to ignite agni (digestive fire) to break down foods more efficiently and has the added benefit of enhancing absorption of nutrients as well. Coriander has the subtle ability to expel heat, cooling over heated (or excess) areas of the body. Cumin is a more warming and stimulating spice that aids in the absorption of nutrients and promotes detoxification, while fennel is a cooling, gentle carminative in the gut, helping to soothe and calm the lower digestive tract.  This seedy combination of herbs is relatively energetically neutral (not too cool, not too warm) and is truly ideal for almost all Ayurvedic constitutions to consume during any season. During the summer months, I often make a fresh batch in the morning and let it cool for about an hour before I pack it up in a mason jar and take it along with me for the day. 

This month, I've also been craving more minerals (and I've been so thirsty!!), so I've added in a bit of nettles to my CCF tea batch to quench my mineral lusting thirst and it works like a charm. Nettle is jam packed with nutrients and minerals including magnesium, potassium and tannins along with high amounts of zinc, calcium and chromium. It's a beautiful anti-inflammatory as well and I clearly love this herb like no other because it's been added to so many other monthly steeps I've made this year. 

When I prepare my CCF tea, I almost always use equal parts of all herbs, and I also keep a steady supply of Banyan Botanicals CCF Tea on hand as well. Nettle I'm harvesting locally if it's in season, and otherwise I keep lots on hand from  Mountain Rose Herbs who harvest their nettle domestically in the US. 

CCF Tea + Nettle

1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Coriander Seeds
1/2 tsp Fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried Nettle leaf
Serves 1

Mix all ingredients together and add to a tea steeper or to the bottom of a glass container. Cover with 2 cups hot water and let steep 12 minutes. Strain and sip before or after meals to promote healthy digestion, or strain and let cool to pack away with you for the day. 

 

HELLO, I’M LINDSAY.
Herbal medicine and nutrition is my expertise. Understanding plants, their properties, and their powers is my passion.

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