What’s eating my kale

What’s Eating My Broccoli And Kale?

Image source: christiansupermom.com

Imagine planting your kale and broccoli as seeds, watering them and watching them grow. You lovingly care for them until one day, to your horror, you notice holes in the leaves and branches that are striped. What evil was let loose on your fresh produce dream?

There are several types of kale and broccoli-loving bugs and insects, more often being caterpillars. Let’s take a look at these veggie-eating critters and discover what we can do about them.

Cabbage White Butterfly

The Pieris Rapae or cabbage white butterfly has caterpillars which are green with a light yellow stripe down the middle of the back and have a velvety texture. They like to eat close to the center of the plant. The adults have white wings with black tips. The females have two black spots on the wings, while the males have one. Another name for this type of caterpillar is the imported cabbage worm. By whatever name you wish to call it, this type of butterfly can manage generations in only one season.

Cabbage Looper

This butterfly also goes by the name Trichoplusia ni. Adults are molted brown and white and are mostly active during nighttime or dusk. These guys LOVE kale and since they are leaf-eaters, they will stripe the plant bare. The caterpillars have a rather smooth look, being a dusty white color at first and then become green with white stripes on the sides when they start eating the plants. They can be green or brown on their thorax area. These caterpillars cannot handle cold temperatures at all.

Diamondback Moth

Plutella Xylostella love young plant buds and do the most damage to the vegetable plants during the larval stage. The caterpillars are a pale green or yellowish green with hairs at the beginning.

Want The Best Chemical-Free, All-Natural Insecticide — For Your Garden

They eventually smooth out in appearance and have a forked hind end. They love to feed on all plants, including kale and broccoli. Caterpillars of this type burrow into the leaves and eat from the inside out. Adults have yellow, wave-like markings that form diamonds on their backs when at rest. Diamondback butterflies can have up to four generations a year.

Cross-striped Cabbage Worms

Image source: USU.edu

These caterpillars love fresh, young buds on seedlings. The caterpillars are a bluish grey color, with cross-wise black stripes, and a yellow and black stripe that runs along the long part of the body. Adults are light brownish gray, with darker gray splotches. This particular insect is known to love kale and collard greens.

What Can We Do?

1. Sprays

All caterpillars can be controlled by Dipel or Thuricide, also called Bacillus thuringiensis (BT.). Pyrethroids are also successful in ridding these pests from your kale and broccoli, but they are mostly, if not all, synthetic, so they’re not for use in an organic-only garden. Natural pyrethrum or pyrethrin is allowed. You can spray BT or BTK (Bacillus Thuringiensis var. Kurstaki) every one to two weeks. The same pattern should be followed with Sevin. Neem can also get rid of caterpillars.

An organic spray, easy to make, is a mixture of water and detergent. You can spray this after hand picking the plants.

2. Traps

Black light traps or pheromone traps are successful in helping to catch moths and butterflies. These two kinds of traps are often used together. Since butterflies and moths use smell to locate food, the traps draw them away from your garden and to the trap. You can even use those sticky, yellow bug traps, but remember they will also catch and kill insects that benefit the garden.

3. Predators

Predators like wasps can help keep the caterpillars under control. There are non-human-stinging wasps named Trichogramma wasps that are beneficial to ridding the garden from caterpillars. They are tiny wasps, and they destroy the eggs and caterpillars of any butterfly and moth.

The Cheap Way To Re-mineralize Your Soil

You can even get them by mail order! You will also need to keep your garden tidy and clean. Keep it clear of weeds or any flowering plant besides your vegetables.

4. Covering plants

You can place row covers over your kale and broccoli, as they grow to prevent any moth or butterfly from landing in the first place. If they can’t land on the plants, they won’t be able to lay their eggs there.

5. Hand Picking

You can spend some time hand picking the pests from your plants. This is the most effective method, but also the most time consuming. Caterpillars are sticky little buggers, but once picked off, you can either squish them or drop them into a bucket of soapy water. They will be very well hidden, so look carefully. Look on both the top and underneath of each leaf. They will range in size due to maturity level. Rinse the plants afterward to remove any caterpillar excrement.

6. Household Foods

You can sprinkle cornmeal around and on your kale and broccoli. This will cause the caterpillars to swell up and die after ingesting (the cornmeal.) You can also spread crushed eggshells around the plants. This has been effective in deterring caterpillars from approaching the plants.

7. Herbs

You can plant a variety of herbs that have strong fragrances, smells or perfumes. Lavender is especially effective. The smell disguises the delicious (to butterflies and moths) smell of kale and broccoli. As mentioned before, if the butterflies can’t smell your crops, they won’t be laying eggs there. White clover also seems to be effective when planted among vegetables.

How do you control insects on your kale and broccoli? Share your tips in the section below:

Get Rid Of Garden Pests The All-Natural Way. Read More Here.

Ok. Let’s be very, very honest here.

How many times have you been at the market, looked at a piece of organic produce, seen numerous imperfections, and then searched for something that looked a little bit more aesthetically pleasing?

I’m certainly guilty of doing that.

But the question is: Why do we do this?

My sense is that we have this belief in the U.S. that fruit and vegetables are supposed to look “perfect”. And if they are not perfect, there is something wrong with them.

Yet, as organic consumers, this is something that we need to get beyond.

Take, for example, the kale (above) that I bought in Nantucket this past weekend at Pumpkin Pond Farm, a certified organic farm.

The kale is full of holes, something that I have encountered numerous times at my local organic market. I have always thought that some insect had eaten its way through it and “infected” or “damaged” it. Therefore, it was to be avoided.

However, this is very much not the case.

According to Joshua Melanson, an organic farmer at Pumpkin Pond Farm, “there is absolutely nothing wrong with the kale. The flea beetle creates small holes but doesn’t transmit any disease. There is simply less kale.”

Apparently, it isn’t just kale that flea beetles like to feast on. They feed on all types of brassica, such as mustard greens, arugula, broccoli and cabbage, and are very common in organic cropping.

Farmers can avoid having holes in the kale by covering the crops each night, a very cumbersome process, or by spraying them with super-toxic synthetic pesticides, something that organic farmers cannot do.

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What’s Eating My Broccoli (and Kale, and Brussels Sprouts…)?

Do you see white butterflies, like this one near your kale, flittering around your garden each day?

Does your cabbage, broccoli, kale, or Brussels sprouts have holes in the leaves?

Or maybe they look more like something was chewing on them for dinner…like this?

If so, the imported cabbage worm has likely taken up residence in your garden.

WHAT’S EATING YOUR BRASSICA PLANTS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, pac choi and mustard greens are all members of the same family – the brassicas. Plants that are in the same family are susceptible to the same diseases and pests in the garden. The biggest problem that gardeners all over the country face with brassicas is the imported cabbage worm.

The white butterflies can often be seen twirling and spinning right above your garden. They spend their days laying up to 300-400 eggs on the undersides of the leaves. Once hatched, the worms feed on both the inner and outer leaves of brassica plants, and can also be found boring into the broccoli florets and cabbage heads.

So, what do you do if you have cabbage worms?

Once they’re infesting your garden you have a few choices. As an organic gardener, spraying harmful chemicals is not an option in my yard. But, a treatment approved for certified organic use is Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). Bt is a naturally occurring bacteria you spray on the leaves. It makes the caterpillars sick and eventually kills them when ingested. I’ve never used it in my own garden. I suggest you read more before using any chemical, organic or otherwise, in your garden.

Another option is to handpick the eggs and worms. This can be a lot of work if you have many brassica plants in your garden like I do. If you only plant a few and visit your garden often, this could be a great option for you.

I have the best luck seeing the worms and eggs in the morning or evening. Turn over the leaves and look for single eggs on the underside. They are tiny. Let me repeat…they are so tiny you can barely see them. See the photo below where I have one right by my thumb.

When you find one, smear and crush it with your fingers.

The worms can be various sizes – extremely small and difficult to see, or fat and juicy and just right for squeezing!

Again, you’re looking mostly on the undersides of the leaves. They tend to hang out around the center rib of the leaf, near large holes, or anywhere you see little piles of dark worm poo (called frass).

I squish the little ones with my fingers, but the big guys can have an unappealing burst when crushed. I use a trusty old brick to smear or smash them against another hard surface.

A tiny cabbage worm in the middle of the photo.

A big, juicy worm about to eat my purple cabbage for dinner.

A third option is to keep your plants covered with row cover for either part of or the entire season to prevent the moth from laying her eggs on your plants. I did this with a garden bed full of kale last season with great success. The kale leaves were pretty much perfect every time I harvested them. Not so with the kale that was left to fend for itself all season. It was riddled with holes.

My kale bed under row cover in late fall.

The kale left out to defend itself was destroyed by late fall.

This week, go out for a cabbageworm treasure hunt in your garden. Look for moths, eggs, and worms on your brassica plants. If you find some, decide which of the control options above you’re going to choose. I’d love to hear what you decide in the comments below this post!

Want to read more about summer challenges in the garden?

Top 8 Summer Gardening Challenges

Cut Down on Weeding in Your Summer Garden

How to Water Your Vegetable Garden in Summer

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Kale Plant Protection: Tips For Pest And Kale Disease Prevention

Kale plant protection for next year’s crop begins after the fall harvest. Many insects that damage kale, spread diseases overwinter in plant debris left in the garden at the end of the season. Fall cleanup, including disposal of plant debris and turning the soil to expose insects goes a long way toward preventing problems in the spring.

Kale Plant Protection

Another fall project to foil diseases of kale is working compost into the soil. Most people know that compost is a great natural fertilizer, but did you know that it also helps the soil drain freely? Soil that can’t drain freely stays wet too long, and many fungi thrive in wet soil. Working in compost in fall allows it plenty of time to combine with the soil so that it is ready to manage water more efficiently in spring.

Kale pests also overwinter in garden debris and soil. Expose the insects to the harsh conditions at the surface soil by turning the soil several times over fall and winter.

Eliminating Kale Pests

Identifying and eliminating some of the most common kale pests can go a long way in your kale plant protection program. Common garden pests affecting kale include:

  • Aphids – Allow natural predator insects to do as much of the work of controlling these insects as possible. If you must use an insecticide, use a soap-based product or neem oil. You may have to spray several times.
  • Flea beetles – Good fall cleanup and regular weed removal are your best bets in controlling these insects, which chew tiny holes in the leaves. If these kale pests find their way to your plants anyway, choose an insecticide labeled for use against flea beetles and make sure the label states the product is safe to use on kale.
  • Caterpillars – You’ll probably notice moths darting around the plant before you see the caterpillars. In most cases, you can hand pick them. In severe cases, or if you can’t bear to touch the pests, you can use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
  • Whiteflies – These tiny, whiteflying insects rise in a cloud above the plant. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil and spray every few days until they are gone.

Kale Disease Prevention

Starting a kale disease prevention program will help eliminate most diseases of kale in the garden. Begin protecting kale plants by implementing these control measures:

  • Water the soil rather than the plant. Wet plants are more susceptible to diseases than dry ones.
    Also, avoid splashing soil onto the plants when you water.
  • Clean tools thoroughly before moving from one part of the garden to another. Don’t forget to clean your shoes! Bits of soil that travel from one part of the garden to another on the soles of your shoes may carry disease organisms.
  • If you think your kale is infected with a disease, cut back on high-nitrogen fertilizers until you have the problem under control.
  • Fungicides containing copper may help prevent disease infection or slow its progress, but they don’t cure diseases. By using fungicides early, you may be able to hold off the disease until after you harvest your crop.

Now that you know more about protecting your plants from diseases and garden pests affecting kale, you can enjoy a new crop each year without any worries.

When insects attack your kale plants, you’ll want to fight back. Fortunately, there are natural ways to kill the many different insect pests that plague these greens.

Once I’ve planted my kale and watched the leaves grow, I’m not exactly thrilled to see big chewed holes or lots of little bites. But I realize this is just a part of gardening.

The first thing to do when you spot insect damage on your kale is to identify the pest that’s causing it. Even if you don’t see the bug itself, the type of bites on the leaves can serve as clues.

Common Kale Pests and How to Control Them

  • Aphids (Aphididae Family)
  • Flea Beetles (Chrysomelidae Family)
  • Harlequin Bug (Murgantia histrionica)
  • Imported Cabbage worm (Pieris rapae)
  • Keeping Your Kale Plants Pest Free

Continue reading to learn more about pest identification and control.

Aphids (Aphididae family)

Aphids are a family of small insects with soft bodies and sucking mouthparts. Large groups of aphids often appear on kale plants, causing a fuzzy or spotted appearance.

The bugs themselves suck the juices out of the plant, which can lead to discolored leaves. Aphids also produce a sticky substance called honeydew, which can cause the growth of fungus.

If there are just a few aphids on your plants, you can spray them off with a hose, or remove them by hand. Remove and discard leaves infested with or damaged by aphids. You can place these in your compost pile.

If you have a large infestation of aphids, one option is to release ladybugs. These beneficial insects eat up aphids in great numbers. However, you’ll need to release a large number of ladybugs for effective control.

Another helpful insect in the fight against aphids is the parasitic wasp Aphelinus abdominalis. This wasp doesn’t just eat the pests, it lays its eggs in living aphids.

When the eggs hatch into larvae, the aphids die and turn into a dry shell known as a mummy. Once they mature, the adult parasitic wasp chews a hole in the mummy and emerges – ready to do battle with more aphids!

A. abdominalis can be introduced to your garden when they are in the larval stage – inside the mummy. You can buy 250 of these hungry beneficial insects from Arbico Organics, and watch them destroy your aphid population!

Since aphids have soft bodies, they can be controlled effectively by spraying with neem oil. Neem oil is made from the seeds of the neem tree.

To use neem oil, dilute it according to product instructions, and spray it on your kale plants. It is best to reapply neem oil every seven days. While you can use it up to the day you harvest, you don’t want to ingest it directly. It’s worth noting that neem oil can be toxic to bees.

Insecticidal soaps can also be used to kill aphids. Check the label carefully to make sure it’s suitable for edible crops and pay attention to how close to harvest you can safely spray.

The best time to apply insecticidal soap is in the morning or evening, when the temperatures are cooler. You should avoid spraying kale in sunny conditions, as this can burn the leaves and damage to your plants.

You can read more about aphid control here.

Flea Beetles (Chrysomelidae family)

These little beetles like to chomp on your kale, leaving tiny pits and holes in the leaves.

Although these beetles are small, they often arrive in large numbers, and can do a lot of damage.

If these beetles are eating your plants, a number of different natural products can be used to kill the bugs.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powder made from fossilized remains of tiny organisms called diatoms.

This substance is sharp on a microscopic level, and damaging to the respiratory systems and mucous membranes of a variety of destructive insects such as flea beetles. But it is harmless to larger creatures such as humans and dogs.

Once you sprinkle DE on your plants, the flea beetles will die. Make sure you only use food grade DE near kale and other edible plants.

Pyrethrins are broad spectrum insecticides comprised of compounds derived from flowers in the Chrysanthemum genus. Products containing pyrethrins kill a variety of insects, including flea beetles.

To use, spray your product of choice on your kale plants, these compounds work by affecting insects’ nervous systems, and products quickly kill pests.

Another natural insecticide that kills beetles is spinosad. This compound is derived from soil-dwelling bacteria.

It can kill pests on contact, but it is more effective when ingested. After you spray your plants with spinosad, flea beetles will die within two days.

Neem oil another option that may be used to treat flea beetles.

Harlequin Bug (Murgantia histrionica)

Harlequin bugs are shield shaped, with either black and red or black and yellow markings. They lay their black and white eggs in bands of six on the undersides of leaves.

These bugs have sucking mouthparts that they use to drink the sap from leaves. This results in white spots known as stipples. If an infestation becomes large enough, plants can turn brown and wilt.

Small numbers of the bugs can be controlled by picking off adults and eggs, and placing them in soapy water.

Harlequin bugs can also be controlled with sprays of neem oil, pyrethrin, or spinosad.

Insecticidal soaps can be used to help control harlequin bugs as well. They don’t actually kill the bugs, but they can soften their shells so other insecticides will become more effective.

Imported Cabbage worm (Pieris rapae)

The imported cabbage worm is the juvenile stage of a small white butterfly sometimes called a cabbage white. These green caterpillars can quickly devour kale leaves if they’re not properly controlled.

Signs of cabbage worms include large bite marks or edges of the plants missing. Other signs include round green frass, or feces – these things eat a lot, and it shows!

If you notice these worms, one way to control them is to physically remove them from your plants. Simply pick off the worms and egg masses, and place them in a container filled with soapy water.

Another control method is to use the bacterial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk). After you spray this bacteria on your plants, the insects will ingest the product and die. A variety of Btk products are available from Arbico Organics.

Crops can usually be harvested the day after application, but remember to always check the label if you spray edible plants with this product.

Keeping Your Kale Plants Pest Free

Chances are, your plants will be attacked by some type of bug at some point in their life. Fortunately for you, now you know how to naturally kill some of these major pests!

Let us know in the comments if you are having trouble controlling pests on your leafy greens, and what methods you use to deal with them.

For more information about planting, growing, and harvesting kale, try these suggestions for further reading:

  • What Causes Yellowing and Thinning of Kale Leaves
  • How to Keep Kale from Wilting in the Garden
  • 6 Best Types of Kale for Cold Climates

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Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: . Additional writing and editing by Clare Groom and Allison Sidhu.

About Briana Yablonski

Briana Yablonski grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania and currently resides in Knoxville, Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in plant sciences and has worked on farms in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Tennessee. Now, she spends many hours planting seeds and moving compost at her market garden. When she’s not immersed in the world of gardening, Briana enjoys walking dogs at the local shelter and riding her bike. She believes that gardening fosters curiosity, continuous learning, and wonder.

Home Remedies for Bugs on Kale Plants

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Kale is a cold-hardy, leafy green well-suited to life in cooler climates. While kale is a relatively low-maintenance crop that draws few serious pests, from time to time insects may invade a particularly lush plot. Fortunately, there are several easy home remedies that effectively remove insect pests while posing no threat to children, pets or plants.

Plant Features

A cool-season vegetable, kale does best when planted in the early spring or late fall as it tends to bolt in hot weather. This tasty salad green can even survive light snows, allowing gardeners as far north as USDA Hardiness Zone 5 to harvest fresh vegetables all winter long. This preference for cold weather helps keep kale pests to a minimum, although insects such as aphids, cabbage loopers, leafhoppers and flea beetles can occasionally become a problem.

Insecticidal Sprays

Homemade insect sprays keep pests under control by coating visible bugs and vulnerable kale foliage with slippery soaps and pungent spices. To make a basic bug spray, simply stir 2 tbsp. of liquid detergent into 1 gallon of water and apply the solution to any affected plants. The surfactants in the detergent clog the insects’ breathing apparatus and smother them. Create a longer-lasting repellent by adding a few tablespoons of garlic, onion powder, red pepper or hot sauce to the soapy water before spraying it on the plants. The spicy flavor and strong scent will keep many unwanted pests at bay.

Companion Planting

While sprays are convenient, inexpensive and simple to make, they must be reapplied regularly to be fully effective. Well-chosen companion plants can ward off unwanted pests all season long. Highly aromatic herbs such as lavender or basil grow well when planted next to kale. Not only does their color and texture contrast nicely with the leafy greens, their fragrant foliage is naturally repellent to many pests. Alternatively, flowers such as marigolds can lure beneficial insects into the garden to prey on harmful bugs, reducing the need for chemical pesticides.

Barriers

Fresh, young kale leaves can also be protected from pests with physical barriers such as floating row covers or mesh netting. When these lightweight, translucent fabrics are draped over the plants, they shield the foliage from the outside world. The material allows the kale to receive both sunlight and water, but the fabric blocks access to the leaves.

What is eating my kale leaves

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In the garden: How to fight back (nicely) against the caterpillars eating your plants

EVERY YEAR AT around this time, I am reminded that growing any of the brassicas (kale, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts etc) is basically a war between you and all the creatures that want to eat the plants. I know that doesn’t sound very calming or nature-loving, but there you go.

Even though kale is one of the easiest of the brassicas to grow, it’s still vulnerable to caterpillars, particularly the tender cavolo nero or Italian kale that I love above all the other kales.

Sometimes I think that ‘brassica’ must be latin for ‘oh my god what’s eating my fecking kale?!!”.

The primary enemy is the cabbage white butterfly, a white butterfly which dances prettily around the veg patch from spring until autumn. It lays eggs on the leaves of the plants and those eggs turn into larvae (caterpillars) that feast on the leaves. An infestation of caterpillars can completely strip a brassica plant of leaves if given the chance.

Weapons

As an organic grower, there are a limited but thankfully effective array of weapons at your disposal to deal with the Cabbage White. A physical cover to prevent the butterfly from landing on the leaves is the best of all. I use a net called bionet which I drape over the plants and pin down with bricks or stones at the edges.

But be careful – it needs to be really well secured, for the Cabbage White is a crafty opponent and has literally nothing else to be doing with its time other than trying to find gaps so it can flutter in to lay eggs on the leaves. I looked out the window of house one day last week and saw a butterfly flying around, trapped inside the netting. And GIYing is supposed to be relaxing?

The second weapon is to inspect the underside of the leaves for the eggs (little clusters of skittle-shaped yellow eggs) or later in the season to pick off (or wash off with a hose) the caterpillars themselves. The caterpillars of the small cabbage white butterfly are green, while those of the large white are yellow and black.

This clearing off of caterpillars can be an increasingly futile effort if they’ve got really established. I find I start the season with great intentions to keep checking the leaves but I become less careful later (ironically, since this is when vigilance is most needed).

If you want to turn the war really nasty (but still keeping away from chemical interventions) there’s a bio-insecticide approach you could take – a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis – which comes in powder form and is added to a watering can (see below).

A garlic spray can also be somewhat effective and let’s be honest is a little less brutal. Equally, planting lots of flowers around your veg patch will provide a heady source of nectar for beneficial insects (such as wasps) and insect eating birds.

The Basics – Bacillus thuringiensis

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a naturally occurring bacteria, common in soils, that causes disease and starvation in certain insects, notably caterpillars.

Discovered in the 1900s, it has been available as a product for use in organic growing since the 1960s and multiple tests have shown it to be safe for use on crops. It is a good example of a natural, targeted pesticide that is lethal to a specific range of insects, but not to other beneficial insects, animals, birds or humans.

Bt works because of its active ingredient – a crystal protein which messes with the digestive system of the insects and starves them to death. It is the genes of this active ingredient that has been genetically modified in to some crops such as corn, causing some controversy (somewhat unfairly) for Bt itself as an organic control.

Bt generally comes in powder form, and is added to a watering can or sprayer to be sprayed on to the leaves of brassica plants. The timing of the spraying is crucial – Bt is a stomach poison for insects, so the caterpillars have to actually eat it for it to work. The time to spray is after the eggs have hatched in to caterpillars but before they start to pupate (turn into a cocoon).

Make sure to spray on the underside of leaves too. The best time to spray the plants is early morning and evening, since the product is vulnerable to sunlight. Bt is generally safe, but you should still follow all the safety directions on the label about mixing and cleaning up afterwards.

Recipe of the Week: All Day Eggs

This recipe is adapted from the Hemsley & Hemsley cookbook. It’s a particular treat at this time of the year when we’re using all our own veg (and particularly flavoursome with our own tomatoes).

Interestingly, I’ve tried making this recipe with tinned tomatoes earlier in the year, and it just doesn’t stack up. You can use kale or spinach leaves instead of chard, but I think the chard stems add a lovely pop of colour.

It’s a great weekend breakfast (takes about 30-40 minutes to prep and cook so you’re unlikely to try it mid week) or a weeknight supper. You literally can’t get a healthier or more delicious plate of food.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large green or red pepper, or a mild chilli pepper (like Hungarian Hot Wax), chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
  • 6-8 large tomatoes (about 450g) roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 200g rainbow chard, stalks finely chopped and leaves sliced into ribbons
  • 4 eggs
  • a small handful of fresh herbs like parsley, coriander or dill
  • small handful crumbly feta or dollop yoghurt
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

Heat the butter in a large frying pan and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, red pepper and cumin and cook for a few minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, chard stems, balsamic vinegar and 250ml water, stir and bring to a simmer.

Pop the lid on and let everything cook down for 10 minutes to make a chunky sauce.

Stir in the chard leaves and cover the pan for five minutes to allow them to wilt.

Take the lid off, season to taste and, if needed, leave to reduce again with the lid off for a few minutes for the sauce to thicken.

Push the vegetables aside using a spatula to make a small gap in the sauce and crack an egg in. Repeat for the other three eggs.

If you pop the lid back on the eggs should be ready (whites set, and yolk runny) in about three to four minutes.

Scatter over some fresh herbs, a dollop of yoghurt or feta and finish with sprinkling of cayenne pepper or paprika and a squeeze of lemon juice. Leftovers would be great next day, but we never have any…!

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