Sautéed Spinach & Red Pepper; to hoe or to hoe

Normally this would have been made with spinach and onions from my vegetable garden.

Not this year.

This will be the first year since moving to France in 2004 that I have not had lettuce, spinach and chard in my garden in June to pick and eat.

Usually by the middle of June we’re starting to get tired of eating so many salads and so much spinach and I’m running out of ideas for the chard.

No chard this year for us. I can buy the spinach and lettuce, but chard is a winter vegetable here and grown for the stems, not the leaves.

I have hopes for my onions….

Sautéed Spinach & Red Pepper

Total time: 15 minutes


  • 6oz (180gr) fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbs good olive oil

Sauteed Spinach & Red Pepper


  • Heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium high heat in large skillet.
  • Add pepper, onion and sauté until tender, 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Add spinach and sauté until it just starts to wilt.
  • Add lemon juice, soy sauce, good olive oil, stir to combine and serve.

Print Recipe

Yes. we have been in France since 2004.

I have had a vegetable garden / potager since 2004.

I have been hoeing my various vegetable gardens since 2004.

I have never known what word to use to describe the act of hoeing.

I have been using the verb biner…  which is the translation given by all of my dictionaries / google translate, etc.

Yet when I speak to a French person they use the verb bêcher.

When I ask which is correct they say ‘both’… yet I never hear them use biner

Yesterday, when my neighbor and I were on our walk, I asked her which was right.

Not being a gardener she didn’t know either word.

So we saw an old farmer out working and we asked him.

He was absolutely delighted to explain the difference between the.verbs for hoeing.

Yes, in French there are two verbs for hoeing….

Biner is the act of hoeing dirt around something. For example you plant a young tomato in a slight hole to facilitate watering. As it grows you hoe the dirt around the stem, filling in the hole. You would do the same to established green beans, corn, etc.

Bêcher. is the act of hoeing as I know it – cultivating the ground to eliminate weeds. It is the type of hoeing (according to the farmer) that one does around onions (but not until July)

Biner is in all of my dictionaries, and Google, as ‘to hoe’.

Bêcher. is not in my small dictionaries. In my big dictionary it’s ‘to dig’ and in Google translate it’s a ‘beaker’ (?).

Sometimes one just has to ask the old farmer to get the right answer.

I think we made his day 😉

Oh….  une bêche is a spade.

A hoe is une houe.

I struggle on……

Last update on June 15, 2018

8 thoughts on “Sautéed Spinach & Red Pepper; to hoe or to hoe”

  1. Great piece of language detective work! I’ll remember the distinction. BTW, if you want chard at this time of year you will just have to move further north-east (I think — not quite sure where you are…) My bio boys are growing more of it than spinach at the moment.

    • Thanks, Susan…. I don’t really like the French chard – all stem. I like what I normally grow, which is rainbow chard and has tender, big leaves and thin stems. For me it’s a summer vegetable lol

  2. I’m making a half hearted attempt to learn Scots gaelic and have had the same encounters. Going straight to the source is always best 🙂

    I usually strip the leaves off the chard and discard the stems but here, the stems are like wooden sticks. I don’t grow my own. Maybe if I did…

    • The French eat the stems and toss the leaves; Americans eat the leaves and toss the stems. I like the rainbow chard because it’s all edible – if one picks it young enough!

  3. No chard this year?! How tragic.

    We had the first of our beautiful red and gold Swiss chard last night for dinner – stir fried with mustard seed, onions, garlic, thin half moons of sweet potato and a tiny bit of sherry vinegar (the vinegar that I got for making red pepper coques; my husband decreed that it wasn’t to sit in the cupboard unused…). Of course we ate the stems AND leaves.

    Nice to know the difference between bêcher and biner. Also nice to know that I”m supposed to be hoeing the chard – I planted ours in 3 different places, to see where it does best. Two of the places aren’t doing so well and now I think it might be not just because of the location but because I haven’t hoed around the plants.

    • I use a lot of sherry vinegar…. it’s my favorite, after balsamic. Yes, I will miss the chard this year. We normally ate it twice a week all summer long. I already have plans for re-enforcing the fence next spring.

Comments are closed.

Share via
Copy link