Blitva is an easy, quick-to-cook, and delicious vegan chard recipe from Croatia where it is mainly eaten as a side dish of fish. However, the Croatian swiss chard with potatoes tastes so good that it can do well on its own, that’s why I like to eat it as a main course. In this post, I’ll show you how to easily prepare delicious Croatian blitva, which requires only a few ingredients.
Blitva s krumpirum
Actually, the full name of the dish is “blitva s krumpirum”, which means “Swiss chard with potatoes”, but it is only listed as blitva on the menu and is ordered that way in restaurants. I first ate blitva in Croatia by the sea in the 1990s. At that time I went on vacation with a friend and her parents, I believe we went to “Senj”. By the way, during this vacation I learned to love not only blitva but also olives. There were always one to three olives on our pizza Margarita and so I forced myself to try them again after an eternity. And was in love.
Side dish eater
Balkan is an area that is about as famous as Austria for its vegan dishes – namely not at all. Nevertheless, there are a few vegan rarities, such as blitva, even if the Croatian chard with potatoes is only valued as a side dish of fish. Since I’ve lived without meat and fish for half an eternity, I’m used to being a side dish eater. For me that’s nothing bad, on the contrary, there are so many delicious side dishes to enjoy. When we are on vacation in Croatia or Montenegro (where blitva is also eaten), I usually order a double portion of it. In addition to french fries with salad, grilled vegetables or pickled vegetables, it belongs to the small list of my fave Balkan vegan menus.
Unfortunately, Swiss chard is so rare to find in the Viennese supermarket shelves, although Swiss chard actually grows well here and is in season from June to October. Luckily, I discovered the chard for this recipe by chance when I was walking around our area in Vienna with Claire (@lotuslife.online on Instagram, which is where we also met, by the way). We were at the beautiful park called Augarten and passed the City Farm Augarten. A nice project in the middle of the city. Anyway, they just opened their doors when Claire told me they were selling surplus vegetables. And when I asked whether they have Swiss chard (I expected a no), the nice lady actually replied that they just harvested some. Of course, I took both available bundles with me and went straight to the stove.
If you have never eaten Swiss chard and are wondering how it tastes, … hm … my love thinks that it tastes like a cellar. And somehow he’s right. Swiss chard has a musty note. I know it doesn’t sound that inviting, but believe me, it’s really delicious. I am confident that if you enjoy eating spinach, Swiss chard will also win your heart (or tongue and stomach). Daniel is super sensitive (even if he would deny that until I tell him 570 things he doesn’t like to eat) and therefore not necessarily a benchmark in terms of healthy simple vegan cuisine (sorry darling, I still love you very much).
A little more about Swiss chard: The stem is usually very thick and extends into the leaf. So don’t cut it straight, but cut deep into the leaf to get the whole thick stem. It has a longer cooking time than the leaves and is therefore cooked first. I have included a picture for you here that shows you how to cut the chard correctly, or how to cut the stalk correctly.
And now: happy cooking, enjoy this tasty dish.
- 1 kg (2.2 lbs) Swiss chard (regardless of whether green or colored)
- 500 g (17.7 oz) (waxy) potatoes
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 12 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp (homemade) vegetable stock powder (or "Vegeta", see notes)
- 1 tsp salt
- Wash and clean the chard and separate the leaves from the stem (have a look at the photo in the post). Cut the stem into approx. 0.5-1 cm pieces and cut the leaves into coarse stripes.
- Peel the potatoes, cut them into smaller pieces, and put them into a pot with 1-2 liters of boiling salted water. Cook the potatoes for about 7 minutes.
- Next, add the chard stalks and the vegetable stock and cook for another approximately 7 minutes, at least until the potatoes are soft.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and fry the onions (but do not let them turn brown). Add the garlic, chard leaves, and salt. Steam for about 5 minutes (preferably with the lid closed) until the chard has shriveled.
- Now add the drained potatoes and chard stalks to the pan, as well as 5 more tablespoons of olive oil. Slightly mash the potato pieces with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve and drizzle the remaining olive oil (1 tbsp per plate) on top.
Instead of vegetable stock powder, you can also use Vegeta *), the condiment of the Balkans. In Vienna, I find it in most regular supermarkets. Be sure to buy the glutamate-free version. Please start with less than 1 tbsp and also decrease the amount of salt as Vegeta tastes quite intense, as much as I can remember!