Blitva – Queen of the Dalmatian garden
- by croatiaweek
- in Food & Wine
Blitva, which is Swiss chard or silverbeet in English, is without a doubt the most important green vegetable in Croatia’s Dalmatian region.
People from Dalmatia have acquired a number of nicknames, and “blitvari”, or “chards”, is one they proudly own. Dalmatians love for blitva is highlighted by the fact that they even have a festival dedicated to the green leafy veg which is held in Podgora on the Makarska Riviera.
One reason they hold this nickname with honour is that they are intrinsically aware of the benefits of their “queen of the garden”.
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Whilst blitva is not everyone’s cup of tea, it is a highly nutritious and versatile vegetable that provides numerous health benefits. It is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants, which can help to support overall health, help with digestion and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Additionally, it is low in calories and high in fibre, making it an excellent food for weight management.
One cup of cooked blitva contains 35% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, 44% of vitamin A, and 18% of iron. It also contains potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Blitva is an excellent source of fibre and helps to maintain healthy gut bacteria, which can boost your immune system and reduce inflammation and is also an excellent source of calcium, which is essential for bone health.
Blitva is versatile and is used a number of ways in Dalmatia but the most popular is boiled with potatoes with olive oil and garlic.
First the blitva is washed and cut into 5cm stripes. Potatoes are peeled and diced and put in salted water to let cook for 10-15 minutes on medium heat after initially reaching boiling point. Then the blitva is added and cooked for around 5-6 minutes. It is then drained off, salt, olive oil and crushed garlic added and it is ready to serve.
Another way it is used is in Soparnik, a traditional Dalmatian savoury pie made with finely ground wheat flour with a filling of blitva.
Blitva is easy-to-grow and grows best in well-drained soil and in a sunny or partially shaded location. It can be grown in containers or directly in the ground, making it a great choice for small gardens.
You can see how blitva Dalmatian style with potatoes is cooked in the video below.