Easy Rhubarb Chard

Rhubarb Chard at Greenslate Farm
Rhubarb Chard at Greenslate Farm

What a beautiful looking plant ‘Rhubarb’ chard is. It always catches my eye as I walk past it in the field. Its bright red stems contrasting with the deep dark green glossy foliage, it just says ‘healthy’ to me.

It has nothing to do with Rhubarb apart from its appearance but a few customers have asked me if it is Rhubarb when they have spotted it.
Rhubarb Chard is a variation on Swiss Chard (Beta Vulgaris), a member of the beet family related to beetroot and sugar beet. There are also yellow and pink variations. It cooks and tastes similar to spinach but I personally think that it has more flavour.

Nutrition wise, it is up there with some of the healthiest foods being one of the most nutritious vegetables around weight for weight. It contains loads of good stuff such as vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, iron, choline, vitamin E, vitamin B2, calcium, vitamin B6, phosphorus and protein.

Why are we not eating more of it then? We once had some Mediterranean visitors to the farm who got quite animated and excited when seeing it growing and demanded we sell them a huge bunch of it. It seems that they knew its value.

As the recipe says, this is an easy one to cook and a great side dish.

Easy Rhubarb Chard

1 x 400g bunch of Swiss Chard
1 dessertspoon coconut oil
1 large clove garlic
1 red chilli, sliced
1/4 tsp coriander seeds

Rinse the rainbow chard and separate the stalks from the leaves.

Cut the stalks into 2 1/2 cm pieces, roll the leaves and cut them into 2 1/2cm slices (keep the stalks and leaves separate).

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan or wok and saute the garlic, chilli and coriander seeds over a medium heat for about 30 seconds.

Add the rainbow chard stalks, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chopped leaves and toss with the garlic, chilli and stalks mixture.

Cover the pan and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until tender.

Stir and serve.

Easy Rhubarb Chard
Easy Rhubarb Chard

(Recipe adapted from Easy Swiss Chard on Simple Recipes).

Runner Beans With An Eastern Twist

As I grew up, runner beans were never one of my favourites. A memory of the stringy, sharp cornered ‘over rippened’ things that my dad once brought in from our home plot, took some time to fade.

I am pleased to say that Greenslate beans are not like that, they are a delight. With a season like we are having at the moment, runner beans are thriving.

I believe in trying everything that we grow, so I brought some home and asked Jane what she fancied doing with them.

Trying new recipes is a big thing for us and this is what she came up with. Adapted to suit our tastes from a recipe by Kris Dhillon, this recipe gave me a new perspective on the Runner Bean.

This recipe would serve about 4-6 people as a side dish but two hungry vegetarians managed to wolf down the lot in one sitting.

It is a mildly spiced dish with subtle curry tastes that didn’t bury the flavour of the beans. Very moreish, I was thinking that I would have some left for lunch the next day; it didn’t happen.


Runner Bean Bhaji

500g runner beans, topped and tailed and cut into 1cm pieces
1 large onion
1 dessert spoon coconut oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely
1 large green or red chilli, chopped finely
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp garam marsala


Melt the coconut oil in pan and saute the onions until just starting to take on some colour.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook or a further minute.

Add the chilli, salt and turmeric and stir.

Add the runner beans and stir to combine everything.

Add a little boiling water, stir, cover with a lid and cook over a low/medium heat for about 20 minutes. Stir every now and then and add a little more water if necessary.

When the runner beans are tender stir in the garam masala and cook for 1 minute more.

Serve with cucumber raita, rice and naan bread or as a side dish.

Cucumbers; a cool recipe idea.

Cucumbers on the Greenslate shop shelf

We have plenty of cucumbers at the moment, our plants are pumping them out like crazy and what a great summer vegetable it is. Cucumbers make me think of Greece and a holiday I had there over twenty years ago.

Tzatziki turned up on my plate one evening in the restaurant and I asked the waiter what it was. He explained ”is a salad,” but it didn’t look like any salad I had ever eaten. Dipping in was a revelation. Fresh, minty, creamy with tangy garlic, I have loved it ever since. Cooling and fresh, it keeps you coming back for more.

I love Tzatziki as an accompaniment to any Greek food, as a dip and also a great side dish to any curry.

At this time of year though, when cucumbers are so prolific, fresh and tasty, it’s great to have as the centerpiece. As my Greek waiter indicated, it’s a salad in its own right.

Cucumbers are one of our success stories this year, we have them in abundance and I can honestly say I feel there is a massive difference between ours and something plastic wrapped from the supermarket. Perhaps it is the varieties that we grow (Tanja and Marketmore) or maybe because we don’t use any chemicals, herbicides or artificial fertilisers.

My recipe for Tzatziki is:

1 (or 2) large cucumber peeled, de-seeded and grated
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp Mint leaves, finely chopped
Half a large tub of plain Greek yogurt (the actual amount is up to you, depends how ‘yogurty’ you like it).

Note, adding 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice is an option and some recipes have lemon as the main flavour with mint as optional extra. I prefer mine minty.


Peel, de-seed and grate the cucumber, place in a colander, then sprinkle with a little salt. Place a saucer on top and something to weigh it down. Leave for a while so that the salt and weight drive out some of the water from the cucumber. Without this step the dish can become quite watery.

Place all the ingredients in a dish and then mix well. Chill in the fridge. Enjoy

My Tzatziki

If you have any good recipes you want to share for Tzatziki, its variations, or anything with cucumbers, send it to me or leave it in the comments below.


It’s Been A While

Veg display in the new shop

The last few weeks have been a bit hectic with the opening of the shop and cafe so my blog postings have suffered in frequency. Sorry, I will mend my ways and get back on track posting more frequently.

This is a busy time of year even without those two new commitments. It is always a dilema that when you are at your busiest harvesting, you still have to keep up with the sowing and planting otherwise there will be nothing to harvest in the winter.

Keeping on top of things outdoors has also been a challenge this last few weeks with the heavy deluges soaking the ground through. Getting the tractor on the land to work it up for new crops has been an impossibility, putting us further behind. Growing wise, this weather has been great and the weeds are flourishing.

Huge storm cloud over Billinge Hill
Yet another heavy rain storm rolls down over the hill

This week I am trying to put those concerns behind me as I take a short break from farming and get on with some writing. It gives me a chance to reflect on what has been happening on the farm lately and realise the mountain that Greenslate Community Farm has climbed.

Firstly, there is the straw bale build and its opening event. Two years in the making, two years of toil for Kath and her team and then finally it is here. Well, nearly, if you could have seen the place the night before it opened with Kath still laying floor tiles and people painting whilst washing down, you wouldn’t have believed it could have gone ahead, but it did.

Move on a few weeks and the shop opens. A highlight for me to at last have a dedicated space for all the fruit and veg that we have been working on growing since January to be displayed and sold. It’s what I am here for, it’s what I needed to see.

Another week later and another labour into the night sees the cafe open. So now people are cooking and eating the food that we grew here on site, eating it in our own cafe. It’s the real deal, food yards not food miles. Hazel, Annmarie and their team, congratulations.

So many people have contributed and worked so hard to bring all of this together. It would be pointless even trying to thank and represent them all here. To honour them and what they have achieved, we now need the world to know about our cafe so that it can support itself; economic sustainability enabling environmental sustainability.

An Australian Winstanley In Wigan

Dane Winstanley

I had a great day last week working with a young man all the way from Australia who knew about Greenslate Farm before he set off on his journey to England. Dane Winstanley came on a journey during a break from college and he is returning to his studies on ecology in January. In the mean time he is on a road trip, firstly to meet up with family in the UK, then going on to other parts of Europe to see friends.

Dane had been reading about Greenslate Farm online in Australia and had decided to come and volunteer here during his visit. He picked beans with me and did other tasks, a really good worker who has had experience working on other farms. I treated us both to a scone from the Cafe (home baked by Annmarie and brilliant by the way) and we talked about all sorts of things as we worked and ate together including environmental issues and politics.

Dane was well aware of Gerald Winstanley and the forthcoming Diggers Festival which he won’t be able to get to as he will be elsewhere in Europe. As I showed Dane around the farm, we stood looking at the allotments and talked about Gerald Winstanley.

The relevance of his family name and the idea of a community farm and allotments worked by people to feed themselves and their families seemed highly symbolic and I felt my voice cracking with emotion as we talked about it. I said, “this is something to tick off your bucket list” and he agreed.