Swiss chard is a nice green that tastes a little like beet greens, a little like spinach. I have planted spinach in the past and never got a lot of growth on it, and it always seems to succumb to leaf miner damage. Not so with chard. The stuff is easy to grow, tastes good, and is quite versatile. Any recipe that you find that asks for spinach or beet greens can have chard as a substitute. The benefit to chard is that once you cut the stems for harvest, they grow back. Chard will grow all summer and can be used instead of lettuce in salads.
Though the bright lights chard is very pretty, I have gone back to planting the old fashioned variety with plain white stems. That variety produces a lot more chard, though the flavor is not all that different.
As a child growing up in Ellington, CT, my dad was the gardener. We had a garden way back on our 4 acres, beyond the chicken coops and the horse paddock. It was basically a cleared area in the middle of the woods. He was the one that introduced me to swiss chard. We always had deer problems in our garden, but the chard was rarely touched by them. Needless to say, we always had plenty of swiss chard for the summer.
I have two 6 foot rows of chard growing, and from today's harvest I have enough to make several chard dishes. I am a recipe collector, and as creative as I can be in the kitchen, I often like to start with a real recipe from a website or cookbook, then I will make my own variations after cooking it according to the original directions. One very simple recipe I got from Epicurious.
Sauteed Swiss Chard
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
- 2 large bunches Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
Melt butter with oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chard; stir to coat. Cover; cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to bowl and serve.
The reviews on this recipe are glowing. Many who tried the recipe said they aren't big fans of swiss chard, but this recipe was really good and they would make it again. As I read the ingredients, I believe this one will freeze well.
When swiss chard leaves get very large, you can stuff them just like cabbage. I have created stuffed chard in the past, but I can't for the life of me remember what I did. Do you think I wrote down what I did? Of course not. I know I used zucchini squash, mushrooms, feta cheese, pine nuts, onions and garlic. It must have been an experiment since zucchini squash comes in abundance, and I also make many different things with pine nuts and feta cheeses. I most likely had them all on hand and just combined them. However, in my search for recipes, I did find one for stuffed chard. It is on EatingWell, and it sounds quite good.
Stuffed Chard With Marinara
- 1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
- 2 medium shallots, minced, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
- 8 large Swiss chard leaves, stems removed (see Tip)
- 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese (optional
- Gently mix beef, breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon shallot, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl until just combined. Divide the mixture into 8 oblong 3-inch portions.
- Overlap the two sides of a chard leaf where the stem was removed and place a portion of beef there. Tightly roll the chard around the beef. Place each roll, seam-side down, in a large nonstick skillet. Pour in broth, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a roll reads 165Â°F, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any remaining broth.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining shallot, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot is soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 8 minutes. Serve the chard rolls topped with sauce and Parmesan cheese, if desired.
- Tip: Remove chard stems, including the widest section of the rib at the base of the leaf, by making narrow triangular cuts.
If you just want to cook chard as a side dish, the simplest way is to place the leaves, cut into strips, in a microwave safe dish. Add about a 1/2 inch of water, and cook on high for about 4 minutes. Drain, then add butter and salt and pepper. That is how my husband likes it. However, I am different. For some reason, when I was growing up, we always spread on mayonnaise, not butter. So of course, when I eat chard or spinach or beet greens, I never use butter on mine, I always use mayonnaise. Sometimes I will get adventurous and add italian dressing instead. I believe that the reason why we always used mayonnaise is because we couldn't always afford butter. Much of my childhood now makes sense since I too have to economize and make do.
My chard series begins here. I will be using a lot of chard in recipes until I start getting in squashes and beans. So goes the gardening. To make the best of what you have, use what is growing, and create many different dishes with it. Okay, you want more. Here is one more recipe that I plan on trying with chard.
- Roasted Carrots and Onions (see recipe below)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill, oregano, or sage
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 6 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 6 Swiss chard leaves, stems trimmed
- Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Prepare Roasted Carrots and Onions and place in oven. Meanwhile in a small bowl combine olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the snipped herbs, the garlic, and pepper. In another small bowl combine feta cheese and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil mixture. Mash mixture together with the back of a spoon to form a paste.
- Top each chicken breast with some of the feta mixture, pressing firmly. Wrap center portion of each chicken breast with a Swiss chard leaf, leaving ends exposed. Place wrapped chicken breasts in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish.
- After carrots have been in the oven for 10 minutes, add chicken to oven. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degree F). If desired, sprinkle chicken with remaining 1 tablespoon snipped fresh herb. Makes 6 servings.
- Roasted Carrots and Onions: In a 2-quart rectangular baking dish combine one 1-pound package peeled fresh baby carrots; 1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges; 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or salt, and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper. Toss to coat. Bake as directed above.