Growing chard for the first time in my pocket-sized yard was exciting, as the leaves came up came up quickly and without much effort. This leafy vegetable (also known as Swiss chard) has a prominent colorful red or yellow stalk that runs through its 6-inch leaves. Chard’s beet-like leaves are tender when it is in season in July and August. After the first few leaves appeared, I cut them off around 2-inches from the ground. I was pleasantly surprised by the rapid growths, which easily gave me enough chard for a meal within a few days.
As we are currently in season, chard tastes less bitter than it does later in the year. Chard has many antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. The leaves retain a touch of earthy mineral flavor, much like its close relatives, spinach and beets.
Choosing And Using Chard
- The stalk should be firm with no bruises.
- The leaves should be crisp green with no brown or white marks or holes.
- Just before cooking, rinse the leaves with fresh cool water.
- Otherwise, store unwashed chard in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The leaves wilt quickly in the heat.
Cooking With Chard
- Using a sharp knife, cut away the stalks from the leaves.
- Bring enough water to boil so as to completely cover the leaves.
- Once the water starts to boil, put the chard into the water.
- Cook for 2 ½ minutes, just enough time for the leaves to blanch.
- Remove and drain in a colander.
- Cooked chard can be substituted in recipes that use spinach or kale. My current favorite uses are adding the cooked leaves to an omelet, replacing spinach in the Indian–style spicy potatoes with spinach, and mixing chard with cooked pasta and shavings of Parmesan cheese.