IN SEASON: Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a highly perishable green which I’ve usually only found in the organic department of grocery stores or at farmers markets.  The flavor is best when it’s freshly picked. 
Peak season for Swiss chard is from June through August, but you can often find it at local farmers markets into the fall as well.

Like other greens, Swiss chard is packed with beneficial nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E and K, calcium, iron, manganese, potassium and beta carotein.  The younger baby leaves can be eaten raw, but Swiss chard is most often cooked.

Swiss chard comes from the same plant family as beets and spinach.  The leaves are darker and thicker textured than spinach, with veining and stalks colored red, orange, yellow or white, depending on the variety.  Multi-colored bundles are called rainbow chard.  Most people just eat the leaves and discard the stems, but the stalks are edible.   The stalk takes longer to cook than the leaves and is cooked separately.

Swiss chard’s flavor is slightly more bitter than spinach, but mellows with cooking; this green can often be substituted for spinach or kale in recipes.  Often you will see instructions to blanch the greens before sauteeing them, to release the bitterness in this green.

The stems can be sauteed, steamed and braised.  Like other greens, Swiss chard can be served on its own or easily incorporated into soups, stews, egg dishes, and gratins.

Besides the braised greens tacos that I featured on this blog earlier this summer, here are some other recipe ideas for Swiss chard:

Sauteed Swiss chard (Simply Recipes)
Creamed chard and spring onions (Smitten Kitchen)
Chard with white beans and fresh herbs (Kate in the Kitchen)
Swiss chard with caramelized onions, pine nuts and sultanas (A Good Appetite)
Swiss chard quiche and sweet potato hash (Cafe Cyan)
Curried red lentil stew with Swiss chard (Jen and Co.)
Crepes with crispy potatoes, greens and creme fraiche (Fresh Tart)
Farfalle with golden beets, greens, goat cheese and pine nuts (Green Your Plate)
Swiss chard and chickpea minestrone (New York Times)
Baked Swiss chard stems with olive oil and parmesan (Kalyn’s Kitchen)
Chard stems with sesame-yogurt sauce and black sesame seeds (Deborah Madison via Culinate)

Do you cook with Swiss chard?  What do you like to do with it?

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2 thoughts on “IN SEASON: Swiss chard

  1. Wow — I've never found chard bitter at all! Strange. I think it might be my favorite green, at least in cooked form. (I do love raw kale slaw. And spinach in pretty much anything, of course!) I have a basic, but tasty recipe from Real Simple that used chard in combination with chickpeas, raisins, and pine nuts — delicious! I think that will be dinner tonight, actually.

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