Blitva Recipe: Croatian Swiss Chard & Potatoes

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by Maggie Turansky


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Order a seafood dish at a restaurant in coastal Croatia (or Slovenia or Montenegro, for that matter) and it’s almost a given that your grilled sea bream of calamari will be served with a side of sauteed swiss chard and potatoes – known locally as blitva.

Blitva is simply the Croatian word for chard, but this dish (and the leavy green itself) is completely unavoidable along the Adriatic coast.

Cooked with plenty of garlic and drizzled in a healthy amount of olive oil, it’s easy to make at home and works as an excellent side dish for something like my roasted red snapper.

Croatian Swiss Chard & Potatoes
Croatian Swiss Chard & Potatoes

How to Make Croatian Blitva

There are not a lot of ingredients in blitva – the two stars being, of course, chard and potatoes. Along with that, you need a lot of garlic and I like to add a bit of lemon zest and juice to bring a bit of brightness to the dish.

A nicely flavoured olive oil is also a great idea for finishing the dish, however, you can use a lesser quality (or even another neutral oil) for cooking the potatoes, if you’d wish.

Ingredients for this recipe
Ingredients for this recipe

With that in mind, let’s get started with cooking the potatoes. Chop them into small cubes (I don’t bother to peel mind, but you can if you’d like to) and them add them to a large skillet with some olive oil and a generous pinch of salt.

Cover the skillet and cook the potatoes, stirring every so often, until they’re tender and beginning to brown – this will take about fifteen minutes.

Cooking the potatoes
Cooking the potatoes

If you notice the potatoes sticking to the pan, go ahead and deglaze with a splash of water from time to time.

Once your potatoes are fork tender and cooked through, uncover the skillet and add a bunch of minced garlic along with a little bit of lemon zest. The latter adds a floral brightness that is absolutely delicious in the finished dish.

Adding the garlic & lemon zest
Adding the garlic & lemon zest

Cook the garlic for about a minute before adding the chard along with a bit of water and a generous pinch of salt.

Cover the pan again and allow the chard to wilt and cook for a minute or two – it will reduce significantly in size during this time.

Stirring in the Swiss chard
Stirring in the Swiss chard

Once the chard is wilted and tender but still crisp, remove the lid and stir in with the potatoes and garlic.

Then, turn off the heat and pour in a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over some flavourful extra virgin olive oil.

Blitva ready to serve!
Blitva ready to serve!
Blitva - Croatian Chard & Potatoes

Croatian Blitva (Swiss Chard & Potatoes)

This dish of sauteed Swiss chard and potatoes is found all over the Balkan Adriatic coast and is often served as a side to seafood. It's a delicious and hearty side dish that will transport you to a seafront restaurant in Split in just one bite.
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Servings 4
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil divided
  • 2 medium potatoes cut into 2-cm (½-in) cubes
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • tsp lemon zest from about ½ lemon
  • 300 g (8 cups) Swiss chard cut into thin pieces, thick stems discarded
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice from about ½ lemon

Instructions
 

  • Add 3 tbsp of the olive oil to a large skillet and set over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the potatoes and a generous pinch of salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are browning and fork tender – about 15 minutes. If the potatoes are sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a splash of water to deglaze and scrape up any browned bits.
    Cooking the potatoes
  • Once the potatoes are cooked, uncover the skillet and add the garlic and the lemon zest. Stir to combine and cook until fragrant – about one minute.
    Adding the garlic & lemon zest
  • Add the chard along with a generous pinch of salt and about 2 tbsp of cool water. Cover the skillet and allow the greens to wilt for a minute or two before uncovering and stirring to combine with the potatoes and garlic. Cook for a few more minutes, just until the chard is tender and wilted but still slightly crisp.
    Stirring in the Swiss chard
  • Off heat, pour over the lemon juice and the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
    Blitva ready to serve!

Nutrition

Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 166mg | Potassium: 662mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 4.59IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 2mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Your Croatian blitva is now ready to serve! This dish is obviously fantastic served with seafood, but it’s great alongside an array of main courses.

Do you want to make Croatian chard and potatoes? Have any questions about this recipe? Let me know in the comments!

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Maggie is the creator behind No Frills Kitchen. She is a world traveller, home cook and recipe developer who loves to experiment with new cuisines and techniques at every chance she gets. No stranger to improvising and making do with the equipment and ingredients she has available, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. Read More

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