Chard will always be there for you. Like a reliable friend, it is one of the greatest, and often least appreciated, of all the gifts from your local farmer.
Chard’s long, thick stalks have wide, glossy green leaves that may be smooth or curly, depending on the variety. The stalk comes in many colors, from white to green to brilliant red, yellow, and pink. At many farmers markets you’ll see the flashy Ruby Red and Bright Lights varieties. They are glamorous and hard to resist, but the old-fashioned varieties with white stems and green leaves are even tastier.
TRUE BLUE, EXCEPT IT’S GREEN
Not only is chard giving, it’s forgiving too. It’s much more heat-resistant than spinach, grows well under most weather and soil conditions, and is disease resistant and bug resistant too. After harvesting, the inner leaves come back quickly, so you’ll see chard at farmers markets from early June clear through Thanksgiving. Because it’s always there, you might take it for granted, but, as with a good friend, you shouldn’t.
EASY, TASTY AND CONVENIENT
Chard is as close to perfect as a vegetable can get—a low-calorie, high-nutrition green with a mildly sweet, clean taste. It’s also a fast food. Tender young chard leaves can be eaten raw, adding a beet-like flavor to salads and sandwiches. Larger stalks and leaves can be blanched in boiling water, or sauteed up in a matter of minutes, quick and easy. Then toss the cooked chard into pasta with olive oil and garlic, add to omelets and frittatas, or use instead of spinach in your favorite recipe.
Swiss Chard Italian Style
- 2 pounds chard 2 or 3 bunches, any color, rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- Sea salt and hot red pepper flakes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil or 2 Tb butter and 2 Tb olive oil
- Place the chard in a large stockpot with plenty of water still clinging to it and set on medium-high heat. When it begins to sizzle, stir and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook until chard is wilted but still has texture and the leaves have turned dark green, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chard to the skillet after squeezing out some of the liquid. Cook, stirring, until the chard has wilted and the garlic is cooked, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer to a warmed platter and drizzle with the remaining olive oil or dot with butter and serve. Serves 4.