I'm putting off real life for as long as possible since leaving culinary school in Ireland about two weeks ago. My first order of business was a loop through the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, hitting Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar and Split. I can't say enough good things. Everyone looks like a supermodel. Most of them are really cool to tourists and speak flawless English. There's a fascinating, albeit bloody, history, and plenty of cheesy Euro-pop that I can dance to with abandon. Perfection - the weather, the islands, the yachts, the nightlife...
And the food. Oh my. It's a lot like coastal Italian food, with lots of fresh grilled fish, shellfish, risotto, homemade pasta and the most gorgeous olive oil. And. There's blitva.
Blitva appears on just about every menu. It's a garlicky mix of wilted Swiss chard and tender potatoes, quickly sauteed in lots of olive oil. I'm surprised that such a simple, delicious dish isn't more popular at home. I'm hoping to change that.
After Croatia, I posted up in a big airy apartment in Stuttgart, visiting a friend who's living here with her boyfriend. Despite the obviously sad fact that I had to leave my imaginary yacht life behind, after nearly two weeks without cooking, I'm ecstatic to be back in the kitchen again. Especially their well-stocked, uber-modern and efficient German kitchen.
I loved the Stuttgart Farmer's Market, where we found some gorgeous rainbow Swiss Chard and perfect little potatoes. I concocted my own version of blitva to serve with dinner, and the three of us managed to make it through the whole pot. Hopefully I'm earning my keep!
Behold, a Croatian staple out of a German kitchen - blitva!
Garlic Chard and Potatoes (Croatian Blitva)
Yield: Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 20 min Total Time: 35 min
3-5 small-medium sized waxy potatoes (a little less than a pound). Yukon Gold or fingerlings would be great.
4 fat cloves of garlic, sliced thin
About 4 Tbs olive oil
1 large bunch Swiss Chard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Peel potatoes and cut into quarter-sized slices. Fill saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add about a tsp salt and the sliced potatoes. Cook til tender, 5-6 minutes. Remove from the saucepan and drain.
Add garlic and olive oil to skillet and heat over medium heat just til garlic begins to soften and sizzle, about 2 minutes. Add potatoes to skillet and cook til golden, about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove stalks from Swiss chard and coarsely chop the leaves. Thinly slice the stalks.
Add the stalks to the potatoes and cook for about a minute, then add the remaining leaves. Saute until fully wilted and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and serve. Blitva is especially amazing with simply grilled fish or steak.