Blitva is a delicious Croatian side dish. I put my own spin on it.
My discovery of Blitva
In 2011, my girlfriend and I were traveling around Croatia and Slovenia. It was late fall and truffles were in season, so we ate a lot of truffles. Shaved truffles on eggs for breakfast with truffle infused honey. Truffles shaved on warm pasta for lunch. Truffle cream sauce for dinner.
But, we also enjoyed lots of other Croatian dishes. One of them was Blitva, a simple dish of potatoes and chard.
When we returned home I was inspired to write a novel set in Croatia. After submitting it to Eckhartz Press, Rick from the company said to me “why don’t you include some recipes?”
This idea never occurred to me. But, it was a no-brainer. After all, several passages in the book were about Croatian and Italian meals. Naturally, one of the dishes I wanted to include was Blitva.
I put a fairly traditional version of Blitva in the book. But, in years since, I have changed it. Instead of boiling the chard, I recommend gently sautéing it to preserve the green’s flavor. I also now add a generous pinch of red pepper flakes to give the dish an extra punch. And, the garlic is now sliced rather than minced. Small changes, I know, but I think it makes a this recipe sparkle.
If you like, you can substitute any hearty green, like kale or spinach, for the chard.
2 lbs. chard (stems removed, leaves chopped)
4 potatoes (peeled and cubed)
3 (or more) cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup olive oil (separated)
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes
Fill a large pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil until nearly fork tender.
Meanwhile, add 2 Tablespoons of olive to a skillet and heat to medium/medium low heat. Add sliced garlic and heat gently for a minute or two. Add red pepper flakes and chard and combine well over heat. Stir and sauté until the chard is wilted, taking care not to scorch the garlic.
Add the rest of the olive oil and the drained potatoes to the chard mixture. Heat thoroughly and add salt and pepper to taste. Add olive oil if mixture becomes dry.
Plate the dish and add chopped parsley to the top. Drizzle with olive oil.
Variation: Par boil the potatoes, drain them and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet with olive oil. Put in a 450 degree oven and stir every few minutes until crispy and golden brown, taking care not to burn the spuds. Stir in with chard mixture off the heat. This makes for a crispier Blitva.
Second Variation: Add stock to the chard and potato mixture for a nice soup.