Until recently, I had no desire to cook or eat Swiss Chard. As a child my father touted its hardiness and nutritional value. An avid gardener, he probably grew and cooked it for our family. However, I only remember the berries, tomatoes, sweet peas, and bumper crops of garlic. My dad grew so much garlic one year, all visitors to the house went home with a doggie-bag full of garlic.
My feelings towards chard changed last week when I was at my neighborhood farmer's market. I was seduced by the rich green leaves and the brightly colored stalks. I knew Swiss Chard was super nutritious, a good source of vitamins K, A, and C and high in polyphenol antioxidants; I didn't know how visually appealing I would find it.
Swiss Chard, Beta vulgaris, belongs to the same family as the beet. Swiss chard is a misnomer. This green is from the Mediterranean and remains popular in the region's cuisine. 19th century seed producers added Swiss to the name to distinguish it from other varieties of chard. Swiss chard is known for being slightly bitter. Young chard can be eaten in salads but mature chard should be cooked to neutralize the bitterness. When purchasing chard, look for leaves that are bright green and crisp. Avoid leaves that have little holes or yellow or brown marks.
I prepared my chard using a Martha Stewart recipe. I have been perusing her site a lot lately and am pinning numerous recipes. Her website is a goldmine.
Sautéed Swiss Chard
1 large bunch Swiss chard
1 tbp olive oil
4 garlic cloves ( I used 2 very large cloves)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Begin by washing and chopping up the chard. Remove the stems from the leaves. Cut the stems into 3/4 inch pieces and the leaves into 1 inch pieces; don't worry if the pieces are exact, guesstimate.
Once all the chard is prepared, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large covered skillet, medium heat. Peel and dice the garlic and cook in the heated oil for a minute or two.
Next, add the stems and cook for 5 minutes, string frequently. Add half the leaves, sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of sugar, stir, and cover for 4 minutes. Once the time has elapsed, add in the rest of the chard and repeat the process, letting the chard cook for approximately 8 minutes.
Remove the chard from the heat and drizzle with the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy. My chard was served with rotisserie chicken from El Pollo Rico.
I really liked the chard, it wasn't bitter at all. I think this dish is going to make its way into my regular dinner rotation.