Swiss Chard is another leafy vegetable, as versatile as it is healthy. It comes in several varieties, include Lucullus, Fordhook, and Ruby Red. You may have seen the attractive Rainbow Chard at the supermarket before, a collection of cultivars with different colors. Swiss Chard is one of my favorite leafy vegetables, because I am attracted to the bright colors of the stalks. The seedlings are starting to germinated from the seeds I sowed in my garden a few weeks ago. The leaves can have a slightly firm texture and bitter taste, easily balanced with a little salt and olive oil. Whether eaten raw, sautéed, or cooked, Swiss chard hits the mark for a colorful, nutritious, and delicious vegetable option. Christopher M. Cirino, DO MPH YHF
Spotlight on Swiss Chard by Ginnie Lin
Not a huge fan of kale? Tired of spinach?
Swiss Chard is a delicious leafy green packed with nutrients, in the same family of beets and spinach. It contains:
Fiber: 3.7 grams, diets high in fiber promote digestive health, support the microbiome, and may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
Vitamin A: 214% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Vitamin C: necessary for collagen production, which forms body tissue and bone, and helps wounds to heal. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from damaging free radicals.
Vitamin K: three times the daily needed value, is essential for the functioning of many proteins involved in blood clotting, cell growth and bone metabolism.
Potassium: an electrolyte that is essential for the function of the nervous system and heart contractility.
…as well as numerous other vitamins and minerals, including calcium and iron.
Below is an easy and super quick recipe to prepare Swiss Chard for a healthy side.
How to Prepare Swiss Chard
First wash the Swiss Chard, and then cut and separate the tougher stems from the greens. Keep in mind that this vegetable wilts and cooks down quite a bit, similar to spinach. Start out with more than you think you need.
After, prepare some aromatics. Chop half a medium onion and mince some garlic cloves.
Add some oil to a pan, and cook the chopped onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent.
Next, add the stems of the Swiss Chard to the onion, stir, and allow to cook until tender for about a minute over medium heat. After, add the rest of the Swiss Chard leaves to the span. Stir every once in a while to ensure even exposure to the heat. You can add a little bit of water (about a tablespoon at a time) to the pan and cover to help wilt the greens.
After about two minutes or so, the Swiss Chard should have wilted down and become tender, as pictured below. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste to complement the flavor of the greens.
Serve immediately and enjoy.
Factoids and tips:
The red stalk colors of chard are a good dietary source of antioxidants and are related to anthocyanin pigment.
Swiss Chard contains a natural toxin oxalate (fresh: 500mg per 1/2 cup), associated with kidney stones (calcium oxalate). People with a history of stones could consider limiting the consumption of raw chard or cook it to reduce the oxalic acid content.
Many people think chard is poisonous (other than oxalate), but this is not true. It might be because it is confused with rhubarb, whose leaves should NOT be eaten.
Use raw Swiss Chard leaves like lettuce wraps or tortillas, for a healthier option to the flour.
Swiss Chard can tolerate cold and frost, so it could be an early spring garden option. It is also heat tolerant.
For more information on growing Swiss Chard in your garden.