Blitva | Croatian Chard & Potato Side Dish

Try my Blitva recipe! Make this traditional Croatian side dish of Swiss Chard with potatoes, garlic and olive oil to remind you of your travels in Croatia. I grew up eating this savory peasant dish and it makes for a perfect side dish or even a unique cold potato salad.

The Dalmatian people of Croatia love this hearty side dish of garlicky potatoes, and Swiss chard (or silverbeet). We call it blitva, which translates to chard.

Think of it like rustic Croatian mashed potatoes or potato salad.

You can serve this blitva recipe hot, room temperature (my favorite), or even straight out of the refrigerator.

Blitva is one of the most well-known Croatian foods. If you want more Croatian recipes, try making sataras, a side dish of stewed vegetables, or grah, a hearty stew of beans and pork.

Serve this side dish alongside main courses like smoked trout, Greek grilled octopus, butter-basted steak, underneath braised beef short ribs, or even with coq au vin.

Serve it alongside other side dishes like risotto, smoked tomatoes, and smoked onions.

Ingredients

  • Potatoes | Yukon Gold potatoes are my favorite choice here, but you can also experiment with fingerling varieties and anything else you enjoy when making mashed potatoes.
  • Swiss Chard | Any chard (silverbeet) will do, including green, red, rainbow, etc.
  • Garlic | Fresh garlic cloves, minced, not powder, and not jarred.
  • Butter | Some would consider this optional; you can stick to just olive oil.
  • Olive Oil | A mixture of olive oil and butter gives the best taste and texture results, in my opinion.
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper | Freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste. You can even try adding smoked salt.

Equipment

A large, deep-sided pot that can hold all of your ingredients. An enameled cast iron Dutch oven is perfect.

Instructions

Step-by-step instructions to help you make the perfect blitva.

Peeled Yukon Gold potatoes in a colander next to a potato and peeler that has been chopped on a wooden cutting board.

Wash, peel, and chop your potatoes. The size of the potato doesn’t really matter and blitva is served in multiple potato sizes depending on personal preference. If you’re using thin-skinned potato varieties, like a nice red potato, you can even leave some or all of the skin on.

Chopped and peeled potatoes inside of a pot full of water.

Add your potatoes to a large pot of well-salted (as if for pasta) water and bring to a boil

A single large leaf of Swiss chard with the red rib removed.

In the meantime, wash and then remove the fibrous stalk from your Swiss chard leaves.

Swiss chard, the red rib is finely chopped and the green leaf is finely torn into small pieces on a wooden cutting board.

Chop the stalk and leaf separately. The stalk should be about 1/2 inch pieces and the leaf normal bite-sized pieces.

A pot of potatoes cooking with the red Swiss chard leaf. The pot is being stirred.

Add the stalks to the pot of boiling water. The stalks are tough and take longer to cook.

Chopped green leaves of Swiss chard are added to a pot of cooking potatoes.

When the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, add the green leaves and cook for a few minutes more.

Drain the blitva.

While the blitva is draining, and in the same pot, heat up/melt your olive oil and butter.

Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 60 seconds.

Add your blitva into the pot with the hot melted garlic butter and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Your potatoes will break apart, this is expected. Do not mash, you want a rustic texture.

The finished blitva recipe stirred and combined with the hot, melted butter and garlic in a dark wooden bowl. A spoonful is held close up.
The finished blitva recipe stirred and combined with the hot, melted butter and garlic in a dark wooden bowl.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Smoked Salt | Instead of regular salt, try some smoked sea salt.
  • Greens | The flavour of chard is quite similar to beet greens, kale, and of spinach, if you don’t have chard — try one of these other greens.
  • Anchovy Paste | Add a teaspoon of anchovy paste (or a filet) into the butter for a hint of unique umami flavor.
  • Caramelized Onions | Add some caramelized onions directly into your blitva after it is cooked and drained and before adding into the melted garlic butter. I have a recipe for smoked onions that would be great to try.
  • Pesto | Stir in some homemade basil pesto or wild ramp pesto for an additional layer of flavor. Just a bit goes a long way.
  • Pancetta | Diced pancetta or bacon is amazing in this dish.

Storage

Blitva stores very well, making it a perfect make-ahead side dish for meal prep, pot lucks, and dinners.

Store blitva covered in an airtight container. It does not freeze well.

FAQ

What does Blitva mean in English?

Blitva is simply the Croatian word for chard. It is also the name for the Croatian recipe blitva of potatoes, garlic, and chard.

Top Tip

Blitva is best served warm, approaching room temperature. It is also a lovely cold potato salad option, and I love to add even more flavor by whisking up some mustard, vinegar, and olive oil.

Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:

The finished blitva recipe stirred and combined with the hot, melted butter and garlic in a dark wooden bowl.

Blitva | Croatian Chard & Potato Side Dish

Make this traditional Croatian Blitva recipe of Swiss Chard, garlic, and potatoes to remind you of your travels in Croatia.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: potatoes
Servings: 8
Calories: 345kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard any variety
  • 4 lbs potatoes Yukon Gold is my favorite
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic or more
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup butter
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Wash, peel, and chop your potatoes. The size of the potato doesn't really matter and blitva is served in multiple potato sizes depending on personal preference. If you're using thin-skinned potato varieties, like a nice red potato, you can even leave some or all of the skin on.
  • Add your potatoes to a large pot of well-salted (as if for pasta) water and bring to a boil.
  • In the meantime, wash and then remove the fibrous stalk from your Swiss chard leaves.
  • Chop the stalk and leaf separately. The stalk should be about ½ inch pieces and the leaf normal bite-sized pieces.
  • Add the stalks to the pot of boiling water. The stalks are tough and take longer to cook. Boil for 10 minutes.
  • When the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, add the green leaves and cook for 1 – 2 minutes more
  • Pour out the potatoes and chard into a colander and allow to drain very well.
  • As the potatoes and chard drain, heat the butter and olive oil up up on the stovetop over medium heat. Use either the same pot that you used to boil the vegetables.
  • Add the garlic to the oil and butter mixture, allow to become fragrent (60 seconds).
  • Add your blitva into the pot with the hot melted garlic butter and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Your potatoes will break apart, this is expected. Do not mash, you want a rustic texture.
  • Allow to come closer to room temperature, check if salt and pepper is to taste, and serve.

Notes

Best served at room temperature! 

Nutrition

Calories: 345kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 185mg | Potassium: 1104mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2653IU | Vitamin C: 56mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Pairing

These are my favorite dishes to serve with blitva:

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