A very economical vegetable, since both the rippled leaves and stalk of chard are edible. In fact, the crunchiness of the stalks can replace celery in many recipes. Belonging to the same family as beets and spinach, Swiss Chard shares their taste attributes: the bitterness of beet greens with the slightly salty flavour of spinach leaves, as well as a mild sweetness.
This vegetable is most widely available from April through November.
The freshest chard will be tender, having glossy leaves and crisp stalks. Avoid those that are wilted or have blemished leaves.
As usual with greens, the leaves are extremely perishable. To keep fresh and crisp for up to 3 days, refrigerate unwashed, wrapped in a plastic bag.
This leafy vegetable needs to be thoroughly washed before cooking – sand and other debris like using the leaves as a cradle. The most efficient method to remove the debris is to soak the leaves in a sink filled with cold water. Agitate each leaf and individually place them in another container. Repeat this process with fresh water until it remains clean.
The Greens If the greens will be tossed in a salad, now is the time to spin dry. Use a sharp knife or scissors to separate the leaves from the ribs, pulling off any fibrous strings. Tear the leaves into uniform bite-sized pieces. If cooked, prepare it like spinach, with just the water clinging to its leaves after washing – only cook for a slightly longer period of time.
The Stems Slice the stems on the diagonal. With the delicate attributes of asparagus, chard should only be steamed, rather than being boiled.
Chard may be steamed, sautéed, or braised, and it can be added to soups, stews, and casseroles. The leaves and stems may be cooked and served together, or prepared separately as two different vegetables.
Quick & Easy Serving Ideas
- Salads and sandwiches – Ideally, use young, tender leaves
- Side vegetable – Leaves of medium size can be quickly sautéed-the stalks can be prepared this way, too
- Steamed, boiled, or added to soups – Older leaves and stalks are best, as the stems require a longer cooking time to become tender than the leaves do
- Juicing Chard is nice – it makes pretty pink and then green juice.
Substitution Swiss chard leaves serve as a good substitute for spinach in most recipes, but they will need to be treated with a slightly longer cooking time.
Akin to spinach, chard contains oxalic acid. It attaches to calcium, which lessens the absorption of calcium in our bodies. In this case, cooking is better than raw, since the cooking process permits more nutritional absorption.
Health studies seem to indicate Swiss chard’s combination of nutrients, phytonutrients (especially anthocyans), as well as fiber may prevent digestive tract cancers.
Chard, Swiss (cooked, boiled, drained, chopped), 1 cup (175g)
Total Fat: 0.14g
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value, based upon United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the USDA Recommended Daily Value. Nutritional information and daily nutritional guidelines may vary in different countries. Please consult the appropriate organization in your country for specific nutritional values and the recommended daily guidelines.