Get to Know Swiss Chard

If you enjoy leafy greens but haven’t ventured much past lettuce, spinach and kale, it’s time to meet mild and tender Swiss chard.

Parmigiano Reggiano Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard
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Parmigiano Reggiano Baked Eggs with Swiss ChardHardly a day goes by when I’m not thankful for my southern parents. They raised us kids on leafy greens like collards, chard, turnip and mustard greens. Unlike a lot of other people, I never had to learn to like them. In fact, I say, the more bitter, the better!

If you enjoy leafy greens but haven’t ventured much past lettuce, spinach and kale, I’m happy to introduce you to the world of mild, tender and really delicious Swiss chard. Once you sample recipes like Parmigiano Reggiano Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard for brunch, Mushroom, Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos for lunch, or Salmon with Swiss Chard for dinner, you’ll never look back!

Mushrooms, Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos

When it comes to taste and ease of preparation, Swiss chard is similar to spinach. You can wilt, sautée and braise it. Or add it to soups, casseroles and pasta. You’re likely to find a few varieties: red, green and rainbow (multi-colored). Each is equally delicious and interchangeable in recipes. Here are some super ways to savor Swiss chard: 

  • For simple preparation, wash the leaves, remove the stalks and cut off the tough bottom ends, then chop the stalks into bite-size pieces. Slice or chop the leaves and, unless your recipe specifies otherwise, begin cooking by sautéing, braising, or steaming the chopped stalks first. After about five minutes, add the leaves and cook just a few minutes more. The leaves should be bright in color but tender enough to chew.  

  • Use chard when making Braised Greens with Onions. It’s a great starter recipe — simple and yummy!

  • Add chopped chard to soups and stews.

  • Sauté thinly sliced chard with onions or spring onions; add to cooked rice, millet or quinoa for deliciously “green” grains.

  • Chard with Bacon and Apple pairs smoky bacon with sweet apples for a hearty vegetable dish.

  • Quinoa, Chard and Apple Salad is a wintertime salad made with red quinoa and walnuts.

  • Sauté chard and use as a bed for grains or proteins like fish, chicken, beef, tofu or tempeh.

  • Macaroni and cheese with a side of sautéed chard is a great lunch.

  • Swiss Chard Torta makes an impressive appetizer for parties or company or as a light meal along with a leafy salad or a steaming cup of vegetable soup.

  • Swiss Chard Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Rice makes a beautiful presentation. Serve hot or chilled.

  • Swiss Chard Stuffed Flank Steak is perfect when you want something easy to prepare yet pleasing to both eye and palate. It’s wonderful, flavored with olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar and asiago fresca cheese.

  • Look for fresh salad mixes that contain baby chard. It’s mildly sweet and tender. For best results, dress the salad lightly to truly savor the flavors.

When purchasing chard, look for firm leaves with brightly colored stems. The leaves should never be dried out, browned or yellowed. Store chard in the refrigerator for up to five days in a plastic bag; make sure the leaves are completely dry before storing. Always wash leafy greens just before using.
And don’t throw away those stems — they’re worth saving for added crunch in stir-fries and soups! Learn more in this quick How to Save the Stems from Winter Greens video:

What’s your favorite chard recipe? Share it below.  

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