With a flavor somewhere between spinach and asparagus, chard is not only exciting from a culinary point of view, but also a visual delight in the vegetable garden. No other vegetable offers such a variety of colors. Depending on the variety, the stalks are colored green, yellow, orange or red to purple. Thus, the vegetable attracts curious glances even in the mixed perennial bed. The hearty leafy vegetable can be prepared in many ways, for example, steamed, sautéed or even grilled. The beet spinach is rich in vitamins and very healthy. Here are some tips and recipes for you on how to prepare this vegetable in the kitchen.
What parts can you eat from chard?
The leaves and stems of chard above ground can be eaten. Chard can be harvested from May to August, almost all summer long. Although the vegetable looks similar to spinach, it is related to beet. In terms of flavor, chard resembles a mixture of spinach and asparagus, with a slightly earthy aroma. The stems taste tender and somewhat nutty. The vegetable has a short shelf life: wrapped in a damp cloth, you can store chard in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator for one to two days.
Stem and leaf chard: what’s the difference?
There are two cultivated forms of chard: Leafy chard has more tender leaves and sometimes colorful stems. Mostly, however, only the leaves are used. Stem or ribbed chard, on the other hand, has white, fleshy stems that were long considered the “asparagus of the little man.” Depending on the variety, the stems are also red, orange or yellow.
Preparing chard: The most important things in a nutshell
From chard, you use both the stems and the leaves. Cut off the stalk, wash the stems and leaves, drain them briefly. Then, depending on the recipe, you can finely chop or cut the leaves and blanch or boil them in boiling salted water. It is also possible to prepare them in the oven or in a pan. The stalks are also separated from the stalk, blanched like asparagus or cooked like the leaves. The vegetable should only be eaten raw in small quantities.
Prepare chard: This is how it’s done
Wash the vegetables and remove the center stalk and wilted leaves with a sharp knife. Usually, sand and soil easily gather in the grooves of the leaves. Therefore, the vegetables should be washed thoroughly before preparation, preferably under flowing water. Then spin dry the leaves and stems briefly, or let them dry on a kitchen towel. Separate the leaves from the stems and, depending on the recipe, chop the leaves into small pieces or cut them into strips one to two inches wide. The stems are sometimes so fibrous and slightly hard that you can peel them with a vegetable peeler, similar to asparagus. However, this is not a must.
Blanch and cook the chard
Place the leaves and stems in a pot of lightly salted boiling water. Let the vegetables simmer for about three minutes. Scoop the chard out of the water with a slotted spoon and rinse briefly in ice water. The blanched leaves and stems can then be prepared like spinach or placed in freezer containers in portions and frozen.
When cooking, place the stems and leaves one after the other in a pot of boiling salted water. The stems are firm to the bite after about ten minutes, the leaves already after five minutes.
Fry chard in the pan
Remove the stalk from the vegetable and cut the washed stems and leaves into small strips. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add onions and garlic to taste. Then sweat the chard pieces in the pan for about three to four minutes.
How healthy is chard?
Chard is a real superfood. This low-calorie, high-protein vegetable is packed with vitamins, folic acid, magnesium and iron. Chard is also rich in vitamin K, which is involved in regulating cell growth.
However, similar to spinach, the vegetable plant also accumulates nitrate, which can be harmful to health in high doses. Does that mean you can’t eat chard raw? Yes, but in moderate amounts! It is recommended to always take some vitamin C when eating chard, for example in the form of lemon juice or orange juice. This makes it easier to digest the leaves and stems. To keep the nitrate content as low as possible, you should only reheat chard dishes once and in any case store them in the refrigerator.
You can also eat the leafy vegetable raw in a salad, in a smoothie or on a sandwich – but only if you do not suffer from iron deficiency or kidney problems. This is because chard contains oxalic acid, which in higher concentrations can have a harmful effect on the organism, especially for people prone to urinary stones. It is also this oxalic acid that leads to a dull feeling in the teeth after consumption.
Prepare chard: Delicious recipes
Recipe 1: Chard tart
For the shortcrust pastry:
- 250 grams of wheat flour
- 120 grams of soft butter
- 5 grams of salt
- 2 eggs
For the mushroom paste:
- 1 shallot
- 15 grams of soft butter
- 100 grams of mixed mushrooms
- 150 ml vegetable broth
- 30 ml cream
- salt, freshly ground black pepper
For the chard:
- 8 colorful chard leaves
- 200 grams of chard, cut into small cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 150 ml vegetable stock
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 spring onions
- 5 grams of garlic
- salt, freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 356 °F top/bottom heat. For the shortcrust pastry, mix all ingredients with 60 milliliters of water to form a dough and let rest for 30 minutes. Then roll out, cut into 10 by 5 centimeter (4 by 2 in) pieces, place them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and prick with a fork. Bake in the oven for five minutes.
For the mushroom paste, peel and finely dice the shallot. Melt the butter in a saucepan and sauté the shallots until translucent. Clean the mushrooms, dice finely and add. Pour in vegetable stock and cream and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid is reduced and purée in a blender.
Cut off the leaves from the chard, cut the stems into 10 centimeters / 4 inches long pieces and the rest into cubes.
Blanch chard stems in boiling salted water and place on a kitchen towel. Heat olive oil and lightly sauté the chard cubes in it. Add vegetable stock and thyme, as well as the spring onions and garlic, simmer gently. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until the liquid is reduced.
Briefly toss the chard leaves in hot olive oil and season to taste.
Spread the tart with chard-mushroom paste and top with the chard leaves and stems at the end.
Recipe 2: Chard with buffalo mozzarella
- 500 grams of chard
- 1 pepperoncino pod
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 8 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons strained tomatoes
- Sea salt
- Black pepper from the mill
- 4 medium scoops of buffalo mozzarella cheese
Wash the chard, cut into small pieces and drain well.
Wash the peperoncino and dab dry. Peel garlic and chop finely with the peperoncino. Heat olive oil in a pot and flavor with garlic and peperoncino. Add the chard, cover and sauté the vegetables until they collapse.
Add the strained tomatoes, salt, pepper, stir well and cover everything with cold water. Cover and cook until soft, a good 30 minutes. Season to taste with the spices. Place one mozzarella in the center of each plate. Spread the chard around the mozzarella with plenty of liquid.
As a cold side dish, you can prepare the chard the same way, but with less water and without strained tomatoes. Let cool and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice. It goes well with spicy cheese.