There was a time when greens, to me, meant spinach and lettuce. Then I started going to the farmers' market and a whole new world of kales, mustard greens and chard opened up for me. And oh, do I love chard.
Chard comes in several varieties including silverbeet, Swiss chard and rainbow chard. It has crunchy ribs, similar in texture to raw celery or rhubarb that vary in color (some are red, others yellow, others shades of orange. The shiny leaves are firm and ribbed and they sometimes have a slightly bitter taste.
In terms of cooking Swiss chard, the leaves can be used in much the same way as spinach. The ribs can be sautéed and eaten too, but they take a little longer to reach tenderness, so it's best to separate them before cooking.
One of my very favorite preparations for chard is Swiss Chard with Bacon and Garlic, which is a simple, but flavorful side dish that's perfect with a cheesy pasta or a good steak. It's also fabulous in Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto.
When I was looking for recipes for this, I stumbled upon Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts, which sounds very interesting ... I bet the sweetness from the raisins pairs well with the chard.
Chard can also be used in soups like Pasta e Fagiole and Chicken and Pastina Soup.
How do you like to eat chard? Share!
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah's Cucina Bella.