This is a mid-week meal, inspired by you guys and the total abundance of chard coming out of our garden right now (and it turns out we really like “pie” – see Pie #1: Leftover Skillet Pie). It’s adaptable with the seasons and most of the ingredients are available year-round (where they aren’t, we have noted some adaptation suggestions). It’s a good easy family meal or mid-week meal with leftovers – we use potato as a base, because who could be bothered to make pastry mid-week and potatoes/sweet potatoes are hopefully growing in your garden alongside the chard!
We first made this exact pie (we have made many variations before) when we were harvesting an abundance of chard as we read through all (there were seriously so many – thank you!) of your survey responses. So it felt fitting to share this recipe!
In very brief notes, the survey taught us that:
You are all amazing. Thank you for all of your kind words and endless support!
You guys want more mid-week, vegetarian meals, straight from the garden.
Many of you aren’t seeing our Instagram posts (so please go to the right corner of one of our pictures, click the three dots and hit “turn on post notifications).
You guys love beetroot, sourdough everything, have an abundance of zucchinis that you don’t know what to do with, and bread/cheese is a hot topic. We have heard you all!
Your grandmothers really loved making apple pie, pecan pie, anything with ginger, anything with lemon and chicken soup!
We re-read the following sentence a lot of times: “I want to know how to cook from what you grow”. Which is totally satisfying to read because that's probably our favourite thing to share.
Most importantly, many of you don’t know where to start or find growing things overwhelming.
And so we wanted to get you a mid-week, vegetarian meal, while reminding you all that growing things is very possible and that we too, started somewhere.
You can grow the chard to make this pie. We hope this a good prompt and starting point for some of you. Once you learn to grow one thing, then you grow another and so on. It’s learning, it takes time, but eventually it really does become easy!
And the experience of growing what you cook and eat is really amazing. There is nothing like it. And we want you all to experience that.
So start here. 1. Grow the chard 2. Make the pie. We would love to see/hear your experiences! Please share!
(In the PS section at the bottom of this post we have added a little list of some FAQ’s – please scroll down to see!)
ON How to grow chard, a step-by-step guide
Chard is seriously the easiest green to grow! You can grow it from seed or from seedlings and we find the best way is to grow up the seedlings first in a punnet/flat, and then plant them out when they are ready so you can space them 15-30cm apart. Now is the perfect time of year to plant some seedlings so why not pop down to your local nursery this weekend and get yourself some ready to plant!
Chard is frost-hardy so the plants you plant this weekend will grow up nice and big before the cold sets in and then happily give you an abundance of chard all through Winter and all the way to at least mid-Spring! One punnet (6-8 seedlings) is all you'll need to be drowning in chard and you might even find the plants sit and produce happily all the way into Summer!
Prepare your bed with a generous addition of some nicely composted manure from a grazing animal (cow, sheep, horse etc) and make sure it is nice and deep (you can push a garden fork all the way in without any effort). Then you're ready to transplant your seedlings.
Space your seedlings 15cm apart in a row and space rows 30cm apart. Don't forget to water your plants in straight away and then give them a water every morning and every night if it hasn't rained and they will thrive! From seedlings it will take about 6 weeks before your chard is booming, then simply harvest the biggest, outermost leaves, as they get big enough each week. You'll be able to continually harvest your chard this way for months! If your chard looks floppy, it's not getting enough water, so increase the amount.
Happy growing guys and let us know how you go!
Serves 4 // Time 30 minutes prep + 45 minutes baking
A big splash of extra-virgin olive oil or knob of butter
2 big pinches freshly ground black pepper
1 chilli (fresh or dried), finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
6 large fresh sage leaves
400g chard or silverbeet, leaves separated from stems, both finely chopped
60g (half bunch) basil (or replace with parsley if not in season), leaves separated from stems, both finely chopped
1 red onion, diced
500g potatoes (about 2) or sweet potato (about 1), thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Zest of one lemon
¼ teaspoon unrefined salt
1 cup (250g) ricotta cheese
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, fan-forced and grease a 22cm round baking tin or equivalent.
In a large heavy-based pan over medium heat, add a big splash of olive oil or knob of butter, pepper, chilli, sage, chard stems, basil stems and onion. Sauté for 5-10 minutes, until onions have softened and are translucent.
Add remaining chard, cover and continue to sauté for 5 minutes, or until chard has wilted. The mixture should be dry/without any liquid but not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool a little until cool to touch (about 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, layer potatoes into the baking dish to create a base for the pie, add a big splash of olive oil to coat potatoes. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl add eggs and whisk. Add garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, salt, basil leaves and ricotta and gently stir to combine. Stir through greens mixture.
Pour egg mixture over potato base and smooth pie with the back of a spoon. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the egg is set and the top is golden. Serve with salads (we simply served it here with some sliced tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden) and sauce! Great cold for easy lunches the next day.
P.S. Your FAQ’s.
You guys said so many awesome things and we want to let you know that we have heard you and we will be making changes, so we can get you all of the information you want!
In the meantime, here are some your most common FAQ’s answered:
Q: How to keep away birds?
Or as someone said “How can I double what I grow so the birds can eat half and my family can have the other half?”.
A: Hang a hawk kite above your garden! These keep birds away super well!
Q: How did we start?
A: We just started! We rented some land and started and worked really hard, we made changes all the time and tried and tested different systems (and created systems of our own!).
For our full story on how we started, please see “Our Story” in the book “Grown and Gathered” 2016.
Q: How do I balance a full time job and gardening?
A: Just as you would dedicate time every day to exercise, you dedicate time to gardening. The most manageable way to do this is to dedicate a block of time in setting up your garden – get the soil right, an automatic watering system set-up (super simple trust us!) and you're off. Even a large veggie garden should only take a couple of weekends to setup.
Then you just need to dedicate a set amount of time to your garden every day, even just 15 minutes, to check on things, harvest what's ready and maintain everything. Maybe keep a weekend free for some major garden time every couple of months too. And you will have a beautiful, bountiful garden!
Q: THE MOST Common FAQ’s - ALL IN THE BOOK!
There were so many questions/recipe requests that are already in our book. Please see some examples below! We wrote our book for you, so if you don’t have it yet, we would love you to get your hands on a copy.
You can get it:
The things you asked for that are actually answered in the book:
- Our story
- Gardening: Building a garden, planning a garden, how to grow abundantly, market gardening, seed raising, garden design.
- Composting systems + composting guides
- How to build good soil
- How to set up watering and irrigation systems
- Identification of mushrooms and wild food
- How to make sourdough starter + bread
- Theory on fermentation and preservation
- Grain and legume soaking guide
- How to make sprouts
- Recipe: Gluten-free sourdough bread
- Recipe: Mustard
- Recipe: Mayonnaise
- Recipe: Yoghurt
- Recipe: Ricotta
- Recipe: Kimchi
- Recipe: Low sugar jams
- Recipe: Ginger beer
- Recipe: Tomato passata
- Recipe: Tomato sauce
- Recipe: Dill pickles
- Recipe: No sugar recipes
- Recipe: Butter
- Recipe: Preserved lemons