Food from the past

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You know how certain songs bring you back in time or a certain smell will immediately transport you to a distinct memory of your past? Well, it should come as no surprise that certain foods have the same effect on me.

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Swiss chard brings me back to summertime in the late 80s, running around outside with my best friend Keri, dancing to Madonna songs on my portable pink radio, “practicing” soccer in our yard and swimming in our pool next to my mom’s garden.

At 6 or 7, I wasn’t a very active participant in the garden, but I can vividly remember coming into the mustard colored kitchen after a long day outside and smelling the delicious aroma of garlic and swiss chard wafting through the air.

Olive oil, garlic, shallots, tomatoes and swiss chard. Summer in a nutshell.

I know we’re on the brink of October right now, but when I saw the swiss chard (which looked extra crisp & fresh) in the grocery store this week, I was immediately brought back in time and just had to grab some. Plus, I think we need a quick break from pumpkin.

This is hardly a “recipe” as it is a method. Olive oil + garlic + shallots, sauté. Add in stems and tomatoes, let cook. Add in leaves, cook until softened. Top with parmesan cheese.

The tomatoes create a broth which almost makes this like an earthy, simple soup.

There’s something incredibly “Italian Grandmother” about this dish. Maybe it’s just the smell of garlic and olive oil that I associate with past Sunday’s at Grandma’s for “macaroni & meatballs” or, maybe it’s the wooden spoon I always use when I break out the “pasta” pot. Either way, it’s warm and comforting just like an Italian Grandma would be.

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So, if you asked me today what my most nostalgic food is, I’d have to say swiss chard. Not brownies, pop tarts or chicken nuggets like most American kids would probably associate with their childhood (unfortunately), but straight from the garden swiss chard. You did well, mom.


Summer Swiss Chard

Yield: 2 side dish servings

  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • parmesan cheese for topping


Heat olive oil in large pot on medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots, sauté until fragrant. Wash swiss chard, trimming off the ends. Cut off remaining stems from leaves and chop into 1 inch size pieces, add to pot with garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until softened a bit. Add diced tomatoes. Sauté for another couple of minutes, then add remaining coarsely chopped leaves. Toss to combine and let leaves boil down and soften for about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


What’s a food that makes you think of your childhood?

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  1. 1

    I find it so funny that swiss chard is your food. I think my would have to be lobster. Yours wins for the healthiest. This recipe looks amazing. I am hoping I will be able to get Jordan to eat it.

  2. 2

    Hello.I was reading someone elses blog and saw you on their blogroll.Great Thanks !

  3. 3

    Ohmygosh YUM! I’ve never made swiss chard myself but I’m totally going to now! yay thanks lovey! so good to be back on your bloggy and able to comment too! I’ve missed you like woah! <3

    there are so many smells and foods that remind me of my childhood — most of all are the funny names my parents would come up for foods so that I would eat/try them! American Chop Suey was for baked ziti and alligator pie was for pot pie or stew! lol

    • 4
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      Yay! I’m so glad you’re back too :) Those names are hysterical. I might tell Ulysses that something is American Chop Suey and see what he says. He has no idea what I put in front of him half the time.

  4. 5

    Fried okra does it for me, but I’ve actually never had Swiss chard.

  5. 6

    Yum! I need to put this recipe on my cooking to-do list! Lemon cupcakes with vanilla buttercream remind me of my childhood…

  6. 8

    We grew Swiss chard in our garden one year and got so much of it, I had no idea what to do with it.

    Most of my childhood foods are super weird because they’re Russian so I don’t think that anyone here would agree :)

  7. 9

    Love this recipe :)

  8. 10

    I think toast and cheese. My sister and I used to love to shred mozzarella and eat it with toast slathered in butter. Weird? Maybe. Delicious? ABSOLUTELY.

    I’ve never dealt with swiss chard, it kind of intimidates me, but this makes me think I should try!

  9. 11

    the smell of chili immediately makes me warm.

  10. 12

    How funny that swiss chard reminds you of your childhood– I think of it as such an “adult” food– I don’t think I discovered it until a few years ago!!

  11. 13

    My mom used to grow swiss chard and collard greens in her garden and would always make soups using them. I loved them. She would throw in linguica (Portugese sausage) and potatoes and it was the perfect comfort food. With a good chunk of soft bread to sop up the broth and it’s a perfect meal.

  12. 14

    Swiss chard reminds me of childhood too. And more than that? It reminds me of my nonna who passed away about two years ago. She had a thick italian accent and would call it “swiss charge” instead of “swiss chard.” Anytime I make it, I immediately think of her and it makes me smile. :)

    • 15
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      Oh my gosh, you just reminded me of how I used to call it “swiss charge” too! I have the sweetest old Italian nonna picture in my head now of your grandmother :)

  13. 16

    Wow that is really unusual. I don’t think I knew what Swiss Chard was until a year ago. Very cool though, good job, mom, indeed!

  14. 17

    Oh man, this is embarrassing. From freezer to oven Chicken Kiev. Haven’t had it in years, but damn is it tasty. I really learn to make it from scratch. Anyone have a recipe?

  15. 18

    Peanut Butter would have to be mine…and chicken nuggets! :/ I remember my mom making me a pb & j sandwich and then letting me lick the spoon when she was done…ah the good times! Now I simply do it with my fingers! lol

  16. 19

    I love the simplicity of this recipe! Thank you for sharing such a warm memory growing up! Food that reminds me of childhood? pizza. My mom would make pizza every friday night. My Dad would put on music, we’d all dance together, eat some pizza, and then watch a movie to finish off the night. It was the best of times :)

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      Running to the Kitchen says:

      Aww, that sounds like so much fun! We did pizza Friday’s too but it was from the local pizzeria and there was no music :)

  17. 21

    The swiss chard was a bumper crop the first year we did out garden. Must have been the
    fertilizer from Agway that had chicken feathers in it and stunk to high heavens when it rained!

  18. 22

    Frozen fish sticks bring me back to my childhood :) For some reason, we always ate them on Tuesdays!

  19. 23

    You are the only person alive I bet who has nostalgic childhood memories of swiss chard and that’s awesome!!

    Mine would be chicken noodle soup or xmas cookies (both of which I made with my grandma)

  20. 24

    I have to admit I have never tried swiss chard!! Now I must after seeing this post…THANKS girl!

  21. 25

    This looks delish! One of the many joys in life is eating childhood favorites! I happen to love a cup of hot cocoa at this time of year. Mmm. ;) Happy Friday (almost)!

  22. 26

    I’ve never been a big fan of swiss chard but this makes me want to try eating it again!

  23. 27

    Just made this as I have never cooked chard before and a bunch turned up in my veggie box, googled it and here we are!

    I only had cherry vine tomatoes so kept them out and served them on the side. Also I don’t have parmesan. Topped with a sliced medium rare rump steak though! Delicious :)


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