The car smelled like dirt from the potatoes.
I had just picked up my CSA vegetables and was stuck in the middle of rush hour traffic. As I stared at the car in front of me, the earthy aroma propelled my brain into recipe mode…
By the way, most of my recipes are conceived in the car. I spend about 90% of my time shuttling the boys to the ends of the Earth and there’s only so much Disney radio I can take (I ♥ you Taylor Swift). On this particular afternoon, I imagined an herby potato salad, green bean salad with beets & vinaigrette, and crispy swiss chard cakes.
It sounded dreamy, yet seriously exhausting. Who am I kidding? I’m lucky if I can even get the vegetables in the darn fridge!
But I learned, with a little clever planning, that it can be done…
The idea is to do all your prep in one pot.
For the recipes in mind, I had to work in batches. First, I boiled the potatoes in a large pot of salted water. I scooped them out using a small pasta strainer. Then, I re-used that same water to blanch the green beans, followed by a hefty bunch of swiss chard. With regards to the swiss chard, I didn’t bother washing it first as I knew the sand and dirt would just sink to the bottom of the pot (yes, really!). I just jostled the leaves with tongs to make sure. I did however, chop up the stems and leaves into bite-sized pieces for convenience.
Finally, the beets went in last since they take the longest to cook and subsequently, turn everything an alarming shade of magenta. While they were boiling, I used that time to clean up.
After my prep was done, I had planned to make the recipes that same day. But I had to pick up the kids from school (surprise!) so that went out the window.
The following day, I made these swiss chard cakes inspired by Ottolenghi’s genius book, “Plenty.”
And only 5 ingredients!
Simply combine blanched, chopped swiss chard with 1 egg, 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Mix well, adding more breadcrumbs if it seems too wet- it’s just like making meatballs. Then shape and flatten into 8 cakes, and pan fry in olive oil until crispy. I like to serve these with fresh lemon wedges.
Incidentally, I brought a few over to my cousin’s house for dinner and they taste even better (in my opinion) after they’ve been re-heated at 400 F. They get super crispy on the outside while the center stays soft. These are the perfect remedy when you run out of swiss chard ideas.
Here’s my herby potato salad…
…on the lighter side.
I sliced the potatoes into rounds, and them tossed with red wine vinaigrette, fresh basil, mint and sun gold tomatoes.
And last but not least, the green bean salad with beets & vinaigrette…
It’s sweet, tangy, crunchy, refreshing- I could live on this, easily. To keep things simple, I used the same vinaigrette from the potato salad which compliments the sweet flavor of the beets. It was topped with cubes of salty feta.
Overall, the whole vegetable prep process took about 1 hour.
Sure, I could’ve used several pots to speed things up, but just picture all that steam! All those pots! I’ve done that before and it’s too much back and forth, drain and strain… back and forth, drain and strain… ugh, exhausting. This one pot method suited me just fine with less stress, less mess and felt very satisfying. Assembling the recipes the following day was a breeze because everything was already prepped.
What are your time-saving shortcuts? Feel free to comment below!
Jessie Snyder | Faring Well says
You are seriously so incredible (!!!) I hope I can be a rockstar mom like you one day <3
Please, I have a ton of wrinkles in my cape. Don’t let me fool you! xx
I just love the whole 1 pot idea Emilie! Sometimes I feel like all I do is clean up… ugh right?! Brilliant and I love those chard cakes. :)
Because all we do is clean up! You are 100 % correct!
Haha… loved reading about the origins of your recipes. Mine are usually dreamed up whilst I’m on the treadmill at the gym ;) I’ve still got a glut of rainbow chard in my little garden, so I might just make these chard patties tonight! That crisp golden exterior sounds delicious xx
The other half of my recipes are conjured up while blow-drying my hair ;) But I like your treadmill idea too. That’s one way to get through a work out! Hope you are doing well lovely! xx
Heidi @foodiecrush says
I am so digging how you made this a TRUE one pot meal. Heck, a one pot week! I’m a fan of less pots more eating, too, and do this most often with pasta. Cooking the pasta first then blanching what needs to be blanched etc. You know what? You’re a lot smarter because you got more. More. MORE!
I didn’t even think about that- one pot week! So true! Honestly, I’d rather more hands-off time with one pot instead of racing to the finish line in 30 minutes with endless clean up. No thanks ;) One of the first meals I used to make in college for my roommates was pasta with blanched broccoli à la one pot style. Great minds, Heidi! xx
Pam Green says
It all looks so fresh! I love a one-pot meal. I’m definitely going to try those swiss chard cakes!
They are so yummy, Pam. I just picked up another bunch of swiss chard in my CSA this week and I think I’m going to make the patties again with little shredded kale… let me know how it goes if you make them! xx
Kathy Schneider says
Hi Emilie! I happened upon your website the other night when I was looking up how to candy bacon. BTW your recipe is the bacon bomb. Very good. I am going to make a batch for my boss’s birthday. I can’t wait to try these amazing Chard cakes. I love swiss chard but I never made cakes out of it before. Thanks for sharing!!
Hi Kathy! Thanks so much! I recently used my bacon recipe to make candied ‘roses’ for an edible bouquet (my cousin found the idea on Pinterest!). I gave it to my husband for our anniversary. Either way, I think your boss will be very happy! Hope you enjoy the swiss chard cakes too.
Brilliant post Emilie, I love the beetroot and feta combination. One of my favourites! Great tips for washing the greens too. I feel like I spend a good part of each week doing this, but it is strangely therapeutic after a day in the office xx
Hi Kat! The beetroot salad is wonderful. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, crunchy (from the green beans) and salty from the feta cheese! You can make it in advance too, which is nice for packed lunches or picnics – it’s spring by you, isn’t it now? xx
this no-wash thing blew my mind. i didn’t renew my CSA membership this season because i was totally sick of spending my afternoons cleaning greens. now i’m kicking myself. :P do you know if your trick works for the tiny little stubborn bugs that are stuck on the leaves?
Hi Jaime! The prep and cleaning of our CSA veg is definitely a lot of work ;) The no-wash swiss chard method is great for when you’re blanching the leaves, however when used in raw applications, washing greens in your kitchen sink filled with water helps too. In fact, you can throw all of your greens- chard, lettuce, kale- in there at once (see above comments!) That’s what I do! With regards to the little bugs, you know, that one is hit or miss. They might fall off in the bath yet the stubborn ones cling on for dear life! it’s the price you pay for organic, right? xo
Jennifer @ Delicious Everyday says
I love the idea, Emilie! I’m pretty sure you’re inspiring a lot of your readers right now to try or to keep on cooking – after all it involves easy prep and cleanup ;)
Hi Jennifer! Oh, I do hope so! I think that’s what it’s all about- sharing ideas, tips and shortcuts. I know I’m always interested in how other people ‘make it work.’ And yes, easy clean up for the win! xx
asha Shiv says
I love those cakes and everything you made here. I absolutely love the tips and tricks, for the crazy days.
I chuckled as I read your daily ideas in the car. It is crazy, we spend so much time in the car. But hey, the good thing is we get ideas.
Loving the recipes and the pictures.
Hey You! I know, it’s all about using your time wisely, right? ;) And yes, we live in our cars! Sometimes I really wonder about that! There’s a drive-thru Starbucks near my house that makes the back and forth trips more fun…
Vegetable overload can definitely be daunting. At first you get so excited, then you just kind of deflate when you know how much prep is ahead. Great tips and I can just picture you daydreaming about these recipes!
Totally. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve left my veggies on the counter because I’ve become distracted or whatever, only to forget about them later in the week after they’ve been put away. Allyson (above) said it best: “as soon as I get in the door I de-stem, chop, and put them in water to get rid of the dirt. ” It certainly motivated me! x
Traci | Vanilla And Bean says
So smart, Emilie, especially your dirt/chard tip! Love it! I’ve got potatoes coming out of my ears right now… kale and chard too! I’m always looking for delicious veggie patty ideas, and although I have Plenty, I’ve not read this one yet! Thank you for this my dear!
I’ve been into veggie patties at the moment as well. Do give it a try! And don’t you just love Plenty? So dreamy… xo
Kathryn @ The Scratch Artist says
I love your one pot method! I read that sentence about not washing the swiss chard three times. I needed that “Yes, really” at the end to cement it for myself…really!? I admire you. I am such a nervous nelly when it comes to washing vegetables. Your method makes complete sense!
Your writing flowed so wonderfully. It was like I was with you, first in the car, then in the kitchen, then picking up the kids, and then enjoying these scrumptious dishes. Brava!
Yes, it’s true! My mom questioned me about the same thing! I mentioned to another reader (above) that I learned this method while in culinary school We would wash lettuce and greens in a large sink filled with water; the dirt would just settle to the bottom. Same rules apply for the swiss chard, with a jostling of the leaves by way of tongs to make sure the dirt starts moving towards the bottom of the pot. And since I didn’t use a colander to dump everything out, there was no way the dirt would get back into the leaves. I didn’t wash the beets either ;)
Thank you for stopping by Kathryn! xo
Sarah | Well and Full says
Those chard cakes look so easy and yummy! I love that everything was prepared together, I bet each dish borrows a little flavor off the others :)
Sarah, they really do. I didn’t even think of that ;) Luckily the beets went in last so they didn’t have a chance to upstage everything! x
Sounds like my kind of recipes. Love the idea of just using 1 pot!
Hi Kalee, it did take a little longer using one pot for all of the prep, but time was saved during clean up! No one likes to wash a bunch of big old pots, right? xo
I love this! I actually have a super similar idea on tap, 3 meals | 1 grain, so expect to see that ;) xx
Great minds, my friend. Looking forward to it! xoxo
Elaine @ foodbod says
I love the chard cakes :)
I tend to spend a day making up sauces and dips, and cooking different grains, then filling my fridge with them so that I can pull them out throughout the week x
Elaine, the swiss chard cakes are wonderful. It’s great way to use up those giant leaves (and stalks) and I’m sure you could put your own flavor spin on them. They’d be great with a creamy dip/sauce as well.
Love your idea of having things ready to go in the fridge- in the end it saves time, money and a trip to the store! x
That’s so clever. The swiss chard cakes look amazing. I have a garden, and when I harvest some veg, I always make sure to clean and break them down right away. Our kale plants are growing like crazy, so as soon as I get in the door I de-stem, chop, and put them in water to get rid of the dirt. Once everything’s clean I store it in the fridge or freezer in gallon bags with damp paper towels. It keeps for a good amount of time, and it’s so easy to just grab kale by the handful to add to dishes.
After reading your comment, I was inspired to break down and clean my (new) CSA veggies right away. Thank you motivating my distracted self! Now, just like you, I have beautiful cleaned and de-stemmed kale ready to go in my fridge. x
Emilie.. This is genius! 3 recipes with the same ingredients!!?! I am SOOOO stealing this idea.. :)
Also, I had no idea that it would be okay to not wash the swiss chard. What a great tip! I am stealing that idea, too. :))
Anyhow, so beautiful photography (as always) and easy recipes with a ton of flavor.
Do it! This one pot vegetable prep can be applied to any recipe (where applicable).
Back in culinary school, we used to wash endless amount of lettuce and leafy greens in a huge sink filled with water. All of the dirt would sink to the bottom. We would remove the leaves from their bath and dry them. Regarding the swiss chard, I utilized the same method making sure to swish the leaves around with tongs so that the dirt would settle towards the bottom of the pot. And because I didn’t dump the water into a colander to drain the dirt stayed put (does that make sense?). It’s a great time saving tip.
Thank you for popping over to say hello! xo