Blitva, as you may already know, is the Croatian word for Swiss chard, and it’s an important vegetable in Dalmatian cuisine. I included a couple of nice traditional recipes for the stuff in my book Dalmatian Cooking, but I’ve never encountered a gentle preparation of the stuff in Croatia. Yesterday I stopped by the vegetable stand across the street for some spinach, but what they had wasn’t looking so hot. Vedrana suggested instead that I take some blitva, and she pulled out a gorgeous little bunch of young winter leaves and stems. These were so perfect that I couldn’t bear to chop them up and mangle them to oblivion with potatoes. Instead, I sauteed some julienned onions and chopped garlic. Then I added the whole leaves of baby blitva to the pan, poured in a little vegetable stock, covered the pan and reduced the flame to a tiny blue glow. When the leaves and stems were just tender I seasoned with salt and drizzled over some olive oil. I will tell you, it pays to be gentle with babies. I may eat the rest of the bunch raw, as a salad.