Swiss chard is a nutritional powerhouse — an excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C, as well as a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and dietary fibre.
This tall leafy vegetable is a part of the goosefoot family – aptly named because the leaves resemble a goose’s foot. Other members in this veggie family are beets and spinach. “Chard” comes from the Latin word cardus, meaning thistle.
How to Select
When picking Swiss chard, look for bright, full leaves. Avoid leaves that are yellow, discoloured or wilted. If you plan on eating the stalks, check the stems for any nicks, browning, or softness. Stalks should be firm like celery, so avoid limp stalks. If you’re eating chard raw, try to pick smaller, tender leaves. Swiss chard plants can grow to 28 inches high. The bigger leaves and stalks are best for use in soups, stews, or sautéed.
How to Store
Store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag for 2-3 days, in the refrigerator.
How to Prepare
Prepare Swiss chard by rinsing the crisp leaves several times in warm water. Leaves and stalks can be boiled, steamed, or roasted.
Tender, young leaves are best enjoyed any way you wish: raw, roasted, sautéed, in soups, stews, or even baked into a casserole! Use as you would with spinach or kale.
The more mature leaves are firmer and are more enjoyable when cooked. Try them roasted, sautéed, in soups or baked. Swiss chard is delicious when chopped into strips and sautéed with a bit of olive oil, garlic and salt. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on top just before serving.
How to Freeze
The best way to freeze Swiss chard is to first blanch, and then flash freeze in batches. First remove the Swiss chard from any tough stems. Chop into strips or bite-size portions. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Once the water is boiling, submerge Swiss chard in the water and let cook about one minute until the leaves turn a bright green. Remove immediately and plunge into ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Squeeze out any excess water and drain. Pat dry as best you can, and freeze in batches (handfuls or in bunches depending on how you plan on using it when frozen). Transfer to an airtight freezer bag or container and use within a year.
You’ll typically see Swiss chard with deep green leaves with red veins and red stalks, but there is also the rainbow variety. Rainbow Swiss chard has thick stalks that are red, white, yellow, or green. All have a mildly bitter taste.
- Reserve young, tender chard for eating raw.
- Enjoy Swiss chard in any recipe that calls for dark leafy greens like kale or spinach.
- Sauté Swiss chard with a bit of olive oil, garlic, and salt for a great dinner side. Squeeze some fresh lemon on top just before serving.
- Add frozen Swiss chard to smoothies for a morning boost in antioxidants, vitamins K, E, and C.
- You can pickle the stalks! Pickle them long or chopped like in this recipe by Love & Lemons.
- Adding Swiss chard to stews and soups is a delicious way to use up this leafy green.
- Switch up your pesto by subbing half your basil leaves for Swiss chard. It will add depth to your pasta dishes!
- Using lemon juice will contrast Swiss chard’s slightly bitter flavour and make your sautéed greens taste a bit brighter.
- Add Swiss chard to your favourite omelette or frittata for extra colour and flavour!
- Use a full leaf to make a healthier wrap for lunch! They make a great “taco” or “burrito” wrap.
What Goes Well With Swiss Chard?
Produce: mushroom, kale, spinach, potato, apple, lemon, sweet potato, radish, pear, squash, tomato, barley, green beans, onion, garlic, shallot, scallion, and tomato
Herbs & Spices: Miso, garlic, salt, olive oil, mustard, Dijon, balsamic vinegar, and vinegar
Savoury: Egg, cannellini beans, lentils, chicken, beef, pork, fish, sausage, walnuts, pine nuts, brown rice, pasta, farro, couscous, and quinoa
Dairy: butter, cream, goat cheese, blue cheese, white cheddar, gruyere cheese, and parmesan
½ cup (125 mL) counts as one serving of your daily vegetables but it’s easy to eat a full cup (250 mL)! The larger portion has just 35 calories and chard is recommended by the Dieticians of Canada for providing Carotenoids which act as antioxidants which protect your body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Dark green leafy vegetables including chard are a source of vitamin K, E and C.
Add Swiss chard to your favourite dishes to add a bit of deep flavour and extra nutrition. Lemon, paprika, and chicken with Swiss chard served over rice is a healthy meal you’ll look forward to!
According to the Canadian Nutrient File, 100g of raw Swiss chard contains 1000% (yes 1000%!) of your Vitamin K, 32% of magnesium, 27% of Vitamin C, 13% of iron, 11% of potassium, 6% of fibre (1.6 g), 6% of folate, and 5% of calcium. Swiss chard is a nutritional powerhouse!