Tucked in the supermarket’s produce display, somewhere between the lettuce and the broccoli, you’ll find nutrient-rich Swiss chard. A member of the beet and spinach family, Swiss chard is high in vitamin K and A. One cup supplies 38 per cent of your daily magnesium and 22 per cent of iron as recommended by the US Department of Agriculture. Besides being super-healthy, it’s a versatile vegetable. It can be eaten raw, sautéed or steamed and is good as a substitute for spinach or other greens in soups, salads and cooked and baked dishes.
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Things you need
- Bunch of Swiss or rainbow chard
Buy a fresh bunch. Swiss chard stands out in the produce section with its bright white or red stems, veins and bright green leaves. You might also find it with yellow or purple stems, a variety called rainbow chard. Either is good to use.
At home, cut off any packaging. Wash the leaves in cold water and pat leaves dry with a paper towel. Store it in the refrigerator by putting chard in a large resealable plastic bag lined with paper towels. It will keep good for one week in the fridge.
Eat it raw. Remove the stems and chop the leaves into bite-size pieces with a sharp knife. Add it to a fresh green salad with mesculin and leaf lettuce. Put a few fresh chard leaves on top of your sandwich. Raw Swiss chard has a light texture, is easy to chew and tastes a little bitter. Sprinkle some lemon, olive oil and salt and it will wilt slightly and cut the bitter flavour. Try adding a few fresh chard leaves to your sandwich as replacement for lettuce.
To prepare Swiss chard for use in cooked dishes, you'll want to blanch the leaves in a pot of boiled water. First, separate the stems from the leaves. Put the stems aside. Boil a large pot of salted water. Add the leaves. When the water returns to a boil, remove the leaves with a slotted spoon. Refresh the leaves in a bowl of ice water for 30 seconds. Remove and blot leaves dry with a paper towel.
Sautéed Swiss chard with garlic is a good accompaniment to cooked meats or fish. In a frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add it two cloves of crushed garlic. Sautee the garlic until it is soft. Add blanched leaves and stems. Sautee the chard for five minutes until it is tender. Season it with salt and pepper.
Cut the stems off and put the leaves in a steamer basket. Steam chard for three to five minutes, until tender. Season chard with salt and pepper, and put it in the fridge. Eat it as a cold salad.
Use steamed or sautéed chard in scrambled eggs or omelettes. Add it to vegetable soup just a few minutes before serving. Steamed chard can be used in place of spinach in quiche or on top of pasta with chopped garlic and olive oil. Try putting lightly seasoned sautéed chard on top of rice or beans for a low-calorie healthy meal.
Tips and warnings
- One cup of raw Swiss chard has 35 calories.
- Vitamin K is important for good bone health. One cup of Swiss chard supplies 306.3 per cent of the USDA daily recommended value of vitamin K.
- Vitamin A supports healthy vision. Swiss chard is high in vitamin A. One cup provides 109 per cent of the daily USDA recommended value of Vitamin A.
- Some nutrients and vitamins in Swiss chard might get lost or reduced in the cooking process. Heating alters the molecular structure of most foods. So, keep cooking times to a minimum for maximum nutritional benefits.