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How to Prepare Swiss Chard

How to Prepare Swiss Chard

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Ribbons of this earthy, nutrient-packed plant are easy to handle and ideal for wilting down to a silky texture. For easy prep, follow a few simple steps.

A Great Leaf: Swiss Chard

Spring is springing and cooks are cooking—Swiss chard! But, before you bust out these beautiful greens, there are a few things we think you should know.

Step 1

Wash leaves in a sink or large bowl of water until free of grit. Drain and pat dry.

Step 2

Fold each leaf in half lengthwise; cut out hard vein.

Step 3

Stack a few trimmed leaves; roll up tightly like a cigar.

Step 4

Slice across to form the ribbons.

Kale and spinach aren't the only greens we should have on our plates. Less well known but equally as worthy, Swiss Chard is delicious, healthy, versatile, and a great substitute for other greens in your favorite recipes. This leafy vegetable has earthy flavors and a mild bitterness, which adds perspective to dishes without overwhelming the other ingredients. While the leaves are bright green, the stems and ribs come in a range of colors&mdashlook for rainbow or red chard varieties, the latter of which is used in the Chard Oshitashi that's pictured here. Either option will lend a beautiful pop of color and vibrancy to any dish.

And those colorful stems are important. Whatever you do, don't toss them&mdashthey are every bit as delicious as the greens and so easy to cook. Start a rich, flavorful broth for soup by adding the stems to the mirepoix. You can also dice the stems and use them in the filling for quiche, which makes for an eye-catching presentation and extra bite. When in doubt, sauté the stems in a skillet with oil and garlic before adding the greens to wilt, just as we do in so many recipes in this collection.

In terms of versatility, Swiss chard is unmatched: There's no question that this green works well in a range of preparations. Start by using Swiss chard in place of lettuce or heartier greens in salads, like our cabbage and chard salad, where it's marinates in a tangy vinaigrette made with sherry vinegar and mustard. It pairs so well with pasta, so mix it in to bulk up your main dish or side. Speaking of sides, you can use Swiss chard in a variety of quick side dishes, such as our Creamy Swiss Chard with Coconut. And it doesn't have to be prepared fast, either&mdashSwiss chard holds up to longer cook times without falling apart, so it's also great in fillings (as evidenced by our Swiss Chard and Ricotta Galette) or baked into frittatas.

Curious to learn more about enjoying this healthy and flavorful green? Read on for our favorite ways to cook with Swiss chard.

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Swiss chard side dish – As Dr. Gundry says, the bitter the better

I will not talk about the nutritional values of Swiss chard here, because that kind of info is easy to find online, but believe me, these leaves are packed. And super delicious, when prepared in a simple way. Sometimes we tend to complicate things too much in the kitchen, but some of the best dishes are the ones when one single ingredient shines through to remind us how tasty the simple food is. You can use both green and rainbow Swiss for this recipe. How beautiful is this?

I’ve tried a few ways of preparing Swiss chard, but so far this one has given the best results. You only need the Swiss chard, extra virgin olive oil (see this article on how to pick the best olive oil), a few slices of garlic, lemon zest and a touch of salt and pepper. And 10 minutes of your time.

For another side dish recipe, you may also like the Beetroot and Horseradish Side Salad.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces sweet bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • ¾ cup dry elbow macaroni
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken broth, or more as needed, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 cups chopped Swiss chard
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for serving, or to taste

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown sausage while breaking it into small pieces, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add diced celery and chopped onion. Cook until onions are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add dry pasta. Cook and stir 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste until evenly distributed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 3 cups broth. Raise heat to high and bring to a simmer. Add salt, black pepper, pepper flakes, and oregano. When soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let it simmer about 5 minutes, stirring often. Check soup consistency and add more broth, if needed.

Place chopped chard in a bowl. Cover with cold water and rinse the leaves any grit will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Transfer chard to colander to drain briefly add to soup. Cook and stir until leaves wilt, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in white beans continue cooking and stirring until pasta is perfectly cooked, another 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Serve topped with grated cheese, if desired.

7 Recipes that Prove Swiss Chard is Underrated

Spinach, kale, or collards might be on your weekly grocery list, but when was the last time you brought Swiss chard home from the store? Though it might feel slightly outside of your comfort zone if it's not in your regular cooking rotation, Swiss chard is as simple to prepare as it is nutritious. It can be used in any recipe that calls for leafy greens, so we often use it as a substitute for kale or spinach to keep our favorite baked pastas and soups interesting and fresh. Plus, with a milder taste than spinach, adding chard to a dish in place of another green is an easy way to sneak vegetables into family meals.

This cool-season crop works wonders in soups and stews, and we particularly enjoy pairing it with white beans, like cannellini. Give our White Bean-and-Chard Soup a try and you'll see why. Chard also plays nicely with potatoes, as you'll see in our Mashed Potatoes with Greens or our Creamy Chard and Potatoes. No matter how you serve it, once you start cooking with chard, you'll see this underrated green deserves more love.

Technique: How to prepare Swiss Chard

Like any green, leafy vegetable, Swiss chard requires a good rinse before it is trimmed. I like to dunk chard in a deep bowl of cold water, swish it around, pull it back out and do the same again in a fresh bowl of water. Then pat it dry gently with a clean kitchen towel.

To trim the green leafy-ness from the stalk, lay the leaf flat on your work surface. Cut the stalk out by outlining it with the point of your long, sharp chef’s knife. Cut the two strips apart where they are connected, then cut those strips into four strips lengthwise. The goal here is to make pieces of about 1” for our soup. Once all of the stalks have been trimmed away and you have a pile of long leafy strips, line those up with your guiding hand and curl your fingertips of that hand (“the claw”) so you don’t cut them. Then slice away 1” pieces.

Swiss Chard stalks are beautiful, and edible—even though we aren’t using them in our soup this week, you can sauté them with olive oil and garlic, with onions or leeks, and enjoy a plate of flavorful good-for-you. You’re going to feel so righteous after eating your chard, and even more so after eating bowl classic Lebanese lentil soup tomorrow, chock full of chard and other deeply satisfying flavors.


  • Make sure that you choose the freshest chard. The leaves should be bright green and firm, not wilted, and the stems should be firm, not stringy or soft.
  • Rinse the chard well to remove all of the dirt and sand that may remain from the field.
  • Add the chard to the pan when the oil is hot. It should sizzle when the greens touch it. If it's not hot the chard will be oily.
  • Toss often to avoid burning.
  • Cook until the stems are just fork tender and the leaves are slightly wilted. You don't want mushy chard, so don't overcook it.

How to Freeze Swiss Chard Leaves

To freeze Swiss chard for easy use later on, you must blanch it. First, cut the stems off and set them aside. They can be used in one of the recipes below or you can freeze them separately to use in smoothies. Blanch the leaves for 2-3 minutes in hot water and quickly submerge it into ice cold water. Squeeze out the water and place it into dish sized-servings on a baking sheet in your freezer. This will act like a flash freezer. When they are solid, place them in bags and put back into the freezer

5 Ways to Eat Chard Stems

Young and tender chard stems require little extra thought, but when the stalks turn thick, and perhaps stringy, it’s usually best to trim them from the leaves. That doesn’t mean you should toss them in the compost or garbage bin, though. Treat them as another vegetable and you have an ingredient for pickles, gratins, and more.

Refrigerator pickles: These pickled chard stems are spicy, sweet, acidic, and especially pretty when made with rainbow chard.

Gratin: A little extra cooking can turn chard stems tender and sweet. For inspiration, see Sunset’s Chard-stem Gratin with breadcrumbs and cheese.

Dip: Swiss chard stalks and tahini are combined in a Middle Eastern dip reminiscent of baba ghanoush. We like this recipe from Taste of Beirut.

Vegetable stock: Toss the stems in the freezer along with other vegetable scraps. When you’ve collected enough, make an easy vegetable stock.

With the leaves: In most cases you can eat chard stems in the same dish as the leaves. If the stalks are thick, finely chop them and start cooking them a little earlier so they become tender.


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