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Swiss chard is a plant I love to have in the vegetable patch.  It’s easy to grow and, with stems in a range of colours, looks good too.  And if that’s not enough, I’ve only ever seen it sold in expensive bunches at farm shops and markets, so I feel like I’m saving money by growing it myself.

I grew the seed mix ‘Jacob’s coat’ this year – a mixture of red, yellow and white stems.  The white stemmed varieties are supposed to be the hardiest, and they’ve certainly done best over the summer.  These are the plants that are still doing well now, the red and yellow veined leaves are much smaller and the plants have tended to bolt earlier in the year.

Now that the leaves are so big, they really need cooking – not for long, just enough to soften them a little.  Here’s a way to use some of those big, but still tasty, leaves.  It’s a dish that can be used as a warm salad or vegetable side dish, but it also makes a good lunch.  And adding some feta and a glass of red wine would bring it into the league of a tasty autumn supper.  The chard is combined with sweet pomegranate syrup, spicy cumin seeds and zingy fresh herbs, and the whole lot stirred through some warm couscous.

I’m linking this to November’s One Ingredient challenge, and hoping that using pomegranate syrup qualifies it for inclusion.  The challenge is hosted by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen and Laura at How to Cook Good Food.  If you want to check out the other recipes in this month’s challenge, or fancy joining in with a recipe of your own, all the information you need is over at How to Cook Good Food.

Couscous with Swiss chard & herbs

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed

a large bunch of Swiss chard, washed and drained

150g couscous

200ml vegetable stock

2 tbsp pomegranate syrup

a good handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until it starts to soften.

While the onion is cooking, prepare the chard.  Separate the thick stems from the leaves and chop everything up into small pieces – the leaf pieces can be larger than the stem pieces, because they will cook more quickly.

Add the garlic to the onion and cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the cumin seeds and stir to mix everything well.

Reduce the heat slightly and add the chard to the pan.  Stir and leave to cook for 5 minutes or so, until the chard has wilted down and is tender.

Meanwhile, put the couscous into a heatproof bowl and pour the hot stock over.  Stir and leave the liquid to be absorbed by the grains.  Then ‘fluff’ up the couscous with a fork, so that the grains are separated.

When the chard is cooked, turn off the heat, add the pomegranate syrup and chopped herbs.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir the chard mixture through the couscous and serve.

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