Northern Gardening Reflections: A Mouthful Of Rainbow

Summer gardening season is in full swing. It’s time for fresh corn on the cob, cucumbers, tomatoes, and of course the ubiquitous zucchini squash to be on our supper tables. You’ve heard the old joke appropriate for this time of year – if people in town start locking their car doors, it’s because they don’t want anybody else to leave zucchinis behind. Now that gardens around our community have recovered from the worm infestation in June, there is much fresh produce being enjoyed. One of the vegetables that we have in abundance in our own garden this year is swiss chard. It can be substituted for spinach in most recipes, but it’s easier to grow and doesn’t bolt, even in hot weather, so we’ll definitely plant it again next year. One of the varieties we planted this year was rainbow chard, which grows in the great colours, including red and yellow. The extra colour adds a decorative touch to salads and casseroles.

If you are looking for recipes to use up your garden abundance, here are a few that we tried out last night at a spontaneous chard-fest potluck meal at our place. Fellow local foodies brought along some samples of their garden produce, and the result was delicious. The menu included zucchini and goat cheese appetizers, sauteed onions and swiss chard in white wine, crustless swiss chard quiche, green salad with nasturtiums, freshly canned mustard beans, and fresh bread. For dessert we had chocolate zucchini loaf, lemon tarts with wild blueberry sauce, and coconut cupcakes. Yummm.

Here are some pictures of the gardens that contributed to last night’s supper, and a few of the recipes. I hope you are enjoying your summer garden cuisine with good friends, too.

Mark’s greenhouse, just completed in June.

Zucchini and goat cheese appetizers (from the Sierra Club’s blog):

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Sliders
Serves 2-3
2 zucchini
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dash of sea salt
3 ounces soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon olive oil
Dash of salt and pepper
Dried mint for garnish
Slice along the length of the zucchinis, cutting pieces 1/4-inch thick. Layer them on a greased baking sheet, season with sea salt, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until the zucchini is elastic, able to bend freely without falling apart. You could alternatively grill the pieces, cooking for 2-3 minutes on each side.
While the zucchini is cooking, in a small bowl combine the goat cheese basil, and sun dried tomatoes. Mix until evenly combined.
When the zucchini has finished cooking, place 1-2 teaspoons of the goat cheese mixture on the end of each piece. Roll the zucchini unto itself, starting with the goat cheese side. Serve with a garnish of fresh or dried basil, mint, or oregano. Enjoy!

I would add that you will need to allow the zucchini to cool for 5 or more minutes, before you can add the goat cheese and roll it up. And my daughter Emma suggested that next time we could scoop out the seeds and mix some goat cheese and cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese) together, along with the fresh basil and sundried tomatoes, and place that in the hollowed out centre and grill them. It was slightly fussy to prepare the “sliders”. But they were very very tasty.

Suzanne and her luscious “three sisters” garden

Crustless Swiss Chard Quiche (from

1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 sweet onion, 1/2 bunch swiss chard, 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese, 4 eggs, 1 cup skim milk,  salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 2 Wash and dry swiss chard. Cut off the very ends of the stems. Roughly chop (leaving stems intact) the chard. 3 Add onion and Chard to the oil and saute until stems are tender (do not overcook). Add salt & pepper to taste. 4 Meanwhile, grate 2.5 cups of cheese. Use whatever varieties you want/have. Be creative! I used Swiss, Cheddar, Parmesan, and Cojito. 5 Wisk eggs. Add milk and cheese. Fold in the onion/chard mixture. Add salt & pepper to taste, if necessary. 6 Pour into a pie dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. 7 Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and no liquid seeps when you poke it with a knife.
This recipe was fast and simple, and also very tasty. You could throw in extra herbs, like parsley and basil, and cook it in a frying pan if you wanted a frittata instead of a quiche.
Now, just for fun, John Denver on the Muppet Show:

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