Recipte: Swiss chard (horta)

Recipe: Horta Vrasta (Boiled Leafy Greens)


By on 19 September, 2015

It’s amazing how our grandparents knew exactly what is good for us even before we had all the scientific research and technology that we have today. They were even clear on the benefits of certain foods and the importance for having them in our diet. Today’s recipe is one such example. I remember my grandmother telling me when I was young to eat “horta” because it “cleans the blood”. Today, based on research, we see this through it’s ability to reduce our risk of heart disease, reduce our risk of cancer and lower our cholesterol levels.

“Horta” is the greek term for “greens”. It basically refers to green leafy plants and “vrasta horta” are “boiled greens”. To make this dish, you can use pretty much any of the green leaves, or a mixture of them. The most common ones used are:

  • Swiss Chard (or Chard)
  • Dandelion
  • Kale
  • Spinach

Personally, my favorite choice is the Swiss Chard. I just really like the flavor of this plant for this dish. Spinach is also a great for a “lighter” and more available option. This is a simple dish and will take no more than 30 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients

  • Chard (or whichever plant you choose)
  • Water
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon
  • Salt

Instructions

  1.  Wash the chard and cut off any parts you don’t want. I use the entire leaf including the stem.
  2. Grab a pot, the size according to the amount of chard you intend to cook. Fill it with water until about half or two thirds. Place it on the stove and bring the water to a boil (note: keeping the lid on will speed up the time to boil and will save energy).
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the chard to the water and reduce the heat slightly. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the leaves are soft enough according to your liking.
  4. Remove from heat and strain the water. You will be left with the cooked chard, ready to serve.
  5. To serve, add some olive oil, fresh lemon juice and some salt. No set amount here, just according to your preference but always in moderation of course.

That’s it! You’re done! You have a healthy dish with very little effort, to eat with your meal. To store, don’t add any dressing, just place the plain cooked leaves into a covered dish/container and put it in the fridge. It also tastes good cold, if you decide to eat it later. Otherwise, warm it up if you prefer.

Health Benefits

There are so many health benefits to eating leafy greens that this list is by no means exhaustive. But some of the key ones are:

  • High in fiber which lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of heart disease. It also helps regulate the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood which lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. Fiber makes you feel more full which means you are less likely to over eat.  Finally, fiber is important in helping keep your digestive tract clean and functioning well.
  • Good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folic acid, potassium and magnesium.
  • Great supply of iron.
  • Supports eyesight through carotenoids.
  • Have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Contain disease-fighting phytochemicals.

Furthermore, the olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, reduces our risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure (among other things).

Lastly, lemon is known to help reduce weight, clean the liver and boost immunity.

Final Comments

With so many health benefits packed into such a simple and delicious dish, there is no reason not to make this a regular part of your eating habits. I strongly recommend this dish. Remember to use good quality ingredients in your food always.

 

Keep growing and stay healthy!

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