Cooking with Swiss Chard

Cooking How-To,Healthy,How-To,Recipes
August 31, 2012

These leafy greens are a nutritional powerhouse and pretty on the plate—here are some tips for the tastiest results.

Swiss Chard 1
Mark Boughton Photography / Styling by Teresa Blackburn

Swiss chard is a member of the beet family that lavishes its energy above ground-producing large fan-like leaves, rather than a bulb. It's also known as leaf beet, seakale, and white beet, and to compound the confusion, it's not a gift of the Swiss. It was featured in the hanging gardens of ancient Babylon, and has long been a staple of Mediterranean cuisine. One account of its name says that seed catalogs used "Swiss" to differentiate it from French varieties of spinach.  


Nutritionally, Swiss chard is a powerhouse. As one source puts it, if vegetables got grades for nutrients, Swiss chard would be a valedictorian. Chard's phytonutrients may help prevent colon cancer. Chard also has impressive concentrations of vitamins A, C, E and K, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc-the list goes on and on. Eating chard may promote lung health, heart function, bone density, vascular health, proper blood sugar levels, eyesight, and brain function — quite a list for a vegetable that racks up just 35 calories per cup, cooked.


One key to cooking chard is to consider it two vegetables in one. The leaves whither quickly like spinach, while the stems require more cooking. For a saute, cut out the stems, chop them, and get them in the pan first, adding the leaves after the stems have softened. Cooked chard is milder than spinach, and it's terrific in frittatas, soups and gratins. You'll recognize it by its showy good looks: stem color ranges from white to orange to scarlet; the multicolored bunches marketed as "rainbow chard" are almost too pretty to cook.


—By Jo Marshall, a food writer in Deephaven, Minn.


Swiss Chard Scramble

For breakfast or dinner, Swiss chard with eggs all scrambled up.


Gratin of Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard

Sweet and earthy yams meet green and earthy chard in a warm and filling casserole.


Weeknight White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard

Canned beans plus fresh chard and fennel shine in this warm, comforting soup.


White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard and Gruyere Croutons

Feathery fennel, leeks and smoky ham punch up the flavor of this slow-cooker soup.


Chard with Lemon and Feta

Lemony brightness and salty feta work wonders with chard.


Frittata with Chard and Whole-Wheat Spaghetti

This seemingly "kitchen sink" approach to a frittata comes together surprisingly well.


Stir-Fried Chard with Asian Seasonings

Hearty greens make a perfect side for roast chicken, pork or beef.


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