Another name for “chard,” a type of beet that doesn’t develop the swollen, fleshy roots of ordinary beets. This vegetable is grown for its large leaves which are used much like other green vegetables. Swiss Chard comes in a rainbow of colors. Oddly, not the leaves, but the stalks show that variety, though the leaves range from bright green to nearly black.
Swiss chard is a vegetable that is often overlooked. It is worth a try, however. Colorful and tasty, Swiss chard is full of nutritional goodness. Swiss chard is related to the beet, and comes in a variety of colors. The leafy portion is always a nice green, while the stalk can be white, bright yellow, or a Christmas red. If you are growing your own, or buy it from a farmer’s market, it is not unusual to see all three colors packaged together as ‘Rainbow Chard’. A very colorful salad or vegetable dish can be made using all three colors together. The edible portion is the leaf and stalk. The stalk needs to cook longer than the leaf, so it can be treated as two separate vegetables.
The younger, sweeter leaves can be put raw in salads, providing color, nutrition, and a spinach-like taste. Larger leaves can be chopped and cooked. The leafy portions cook quickly like spinach; the stalks should be chopped into bite-size pieces and can be sautéed or steamed for a longer period of time than the leaves.
Recipes may specify Ruby Chard, Chard, Yellow Chard or other. Use any version of Chard available to you as they are all essentially the same.
Swiss chard is among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating Swiss chard. Laboratory studies have shown that oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, in every peer-reviewed research study we’ve seen, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and definitely does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute calcium to the meal plan. If your digestive tract is healthy, and you do a good job of chewing and relaxing while you enjoy your meals, you will get significant benefits, including absorption of calcium from calcium-rich foods plant foods that also contain oxalic acid. Ordinarily, a healthcare practitioner would not discourage a person focused on ensuring that they are meeting their calcium requirements from eating these nutrient-rich foods because of their oxalate content.
Swiss chard is an excellent source of bone-building vitamin K, manganese, and magnesium; antioxidant vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E; heart-healthy potassium and dietary fiber; and energy-producing iron. It is a very good source of bone-healthy copper and calcium; energy-producing vitamin B2 and vitamin B6; and muscle-building protein. In addition, Swiss chard is a good source of energy-producing phosphorus, vitamin B1, vitamin B5, biotin, and niacin; immune supportive zinc; and heart-healthy folate.
Season: June – August
How to select: Available year round but true harvest is summer. Look for crisp stalks.
How to store: Store in the refrigerator in plastic for 3 days.
How to prepare: braise, saute, steam. Swiss chard is used much like spinach, except that it has an appealing beet-like flavor and a heavier texture, which requires longer cooking. Many cooks simply saute it in olive oil and serve it as a side dish.
Matches well with: lemon, peppers, saffron
Substitutions: beet greens OR spinach OR turnip greens OR bok choy OR escarole OR mustard greens