How to Cook Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is that bright green leafy vegetable, usually with a red mid vein, that most people inch past in the supermarkets.  It looks so darn healthy it is scary, and also looks complicated and possibly bitter.  I’ve been growing chard for years.  One of the easiest of plants to grow from seed, this perennial in our San Diego climate reseeds itself if you let it.  To harvest you cut off all the leaves except a few in the middle (to keep the plant producing food for itself).  You can easily feed off of a few of these plants for years.

Chard is Mediterranean, not Swiss, but wherever its from it comes packed with antioxidants and many other great health benefits.  There is the most common red veined chard that you see in the supermarket, and there is also white or yellow veined varieties.  If you buy a package of seeds called Bright Lights, it contains seeds for a mixture of these.  The taste difference is negligible, and since in preparing chard you usually strip the mid vein out, it really doesn’t make much difference except as color variety in the garden.

You can cut the leaves while very young and add them directly to lettuce mixes for salads, especially wilted salads.  Or you can stir-fry them up or use them as you would baby spinach.  The wonderful thing about chard is that you can use the old leaves as well.  Older chard takes a little longer to prepare, but oh, it is worth the effort.  To prepare older leaves, I fill half the kitchen sink with water, then with my fingers or a sharp knife, strip the green away from the mid veins and drop the greens into the water.

Strip the green part from the midrib

Wash the greens well.  If your garden doesn’t have a lot of mulch around the plants, then there might be soil kicked up on the leaves.  Also, look out for any freeloaders such as snails or earwigs.  I usually soak the leaves for a while, letting any thing extra float to the top or sink, then drain and rinse again.  Squeeze the extra liquid from the greens and you are ready to cook.

If you want to freeze the chard for later, boil water in a big pot (depending on how much chard you have; you can do it in batches, too), then blanch the greens by briefly submerging them in the boiling water, fishing them out and bathing them in cold water to stop the cooking process.  Dry the greens and freeze in containers.

This is my recipe for cooking chard, which my kids and I have loved for years.  You can prepare it this way and eat directly, or use it as filling for enchiladas, frittatas, empanadas, or any other tas or das  you may desire!  Photos follow the print version of the recipe.

Chard Saute
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Swiss chard is easy to grow and a little more involved to prepare, but oh! how it is worth the effort!
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot (or half an onion, or a clove or two of garlic)
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth or water
  • 2 large bunches Swiss chard (or more)
Instructions
  1. Wash, wring out, de-stem and chop large chard leaves.
  2. In a large saute pan (that is a frying pan with high sides), heat two tablespoons olive oil to medium high. Or, if doing a mondo-huge pile of chard, use a pot.
  3. Chop one large shallot, or half an onion, or a clove or two of garlic and add to pan.
  4. If using onion, then allow to cook for a few minutes until softened.
  5. Add wrung-out Swiss chard and stir a little.
  6. Add a quarter of a cup of vegetable broth (the greens will still hold water, so you don't need much broth. Or you can add the same amount of water).
  7. Cover the pan and reduce heat to low.
  8. Allow chard to steam for about twenty minutes (it should be simmering in there; if it isn't, turn up the heat a little).
  9. Lift the lid once and stir chard.
  10. At the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and turn up the heat.
  11. Allow any extra broth to cook until almost completely gone. Be careful not to scorch!
  12. Remove from heat, adjust the salt to taste, and serve. I eat it with butter, or sprinkled with Parmesan cheese is also good. Yum!!

 

Chard Saute

In a large saute pan (that is a frying pan with high sides), heat two tablespoons olive oil to medium high. Or, if doing a mondo-huge pile of chard, use a pot.

Pan o'chard

Chop one large shallot, or half an onion, or a clove or two of garlic and add to pan.

Slice shallots

If using onion, then allow to cook for a few minutes until softened.  Add wrung-out Swiss chard and stir a little.  Add a quarter of a cup of vegetable broth (the greens will still hold water, so you don’t need much broth.  Or you can add the same amount of water).  Cover the pan and reduce heat to low.  Allow chard to steam for about twenty minutes (it should be simmering in there; if it isn’t, turn up the heat a little).  Lift the lid once and stir chard.

Stir the chard

At the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and turn up the heat.  Allow any extra broth to cook until almost completely gone.  Remove from heat, adjust the salt to taste, and serve.  I eat it with butter, or sprinkled with Parmesan cheese is also good.  Yum!!

Buttered Chard: YUM!

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