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Swiss Chard


little ms foodie
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You can use both parts of the leaf, as seperate vegetables. The thick ribs like celery and the leaf like spinach.

Or braise the stems in bundles with bacon and onions

Or stir-fry giving the chopped stems a bit longer

Or make a sweet tart au blette (example in my foodblog)

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I have no idea how to use swiss chard. Meaning is it the stems only that you use or the leafy part only or both??

Also once I know WHAT part to use what are your favorite WAYS to use it??

I love chard, and use both the stems and leaves. Here's a good starter recipe:

http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipes/chard.html

Usually I don't bother with the blanching, and just stir fry them with garlic and olive oil, putting the stems in first and adding the leaves when the stems are about done (and adding a little water if they look like they might end up browning before they're cooked). If you're using a skillet rather than a wok or other wide and deep pan, you might need to blanch first just so it fits in the pan.

I also recently tried a recipe from Food & Wine (at the Seattle cook-together two weekends ago), which was pretty similar to the recipe at Leite's Culinaria, but added Pimenton de la Vera along with the garlic.

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I grew a lovely Vulcan red variety and an heirloom Italian white a few years ago. I liked to use the tender leaves and sliced stems in salads. If you garden, it makes a lovely addition to the flower beds. Then you can chose the younger leaves for salads or let them get bigger for cooking. I also liked to add it to stir fries and Thai curries.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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The leaves are great in lasagne and other pasta dishes, and, as jackal10 suggests, in a savoury or sweet tourte aux blettes (to which the perfect accompaniment is a glass of Provençal rosé). My favourite sweet tourte recipe is in Pat Wells' Bistro Cooking (two hints: dry the leaves in the salad spinner before processing, and use golden raisins and pine nuts).

The stalks are delicious blanched, cooled and layered in a buttered baking dish, the layers interspersed with grated parmesan, with more parmesan and butter dots on the top and the whole thing baked in a medium oven until golden. Other gratins (e.g. chopped pancetta, garlic, parsley and tomato topped with béchamel or cream) are great too, but it's the parmesan one that sends me swooning.

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Another use, beside the side dishes, is to make an entree of Swiss Chard Fritters to serve with a sharp cheddar cheese sauce with mustard as an ingredient. Is delicious, colorful and filling. Kay

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Here is a paper I wrote in culinary school on the subject of Swiss chard. The bright lights varietal, which is available at my local farmer's market, is my favorite for its brilliant colors. I normally saute the stems and leaves separately with garlic and olive oil, and add balsamic reduction or raspberry vinegar at the last minute for a hit of acid-sweetness.

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris, variety cicla, part of the Chenopodiaceae family) is a sweet vegetable with firm, fleshy stalks and thick leaves. Swiss chard is also known simply as chard. The vegetable stems range from red to yellow to white in color, with the ribs in the leaves carrying the same color as the stem. The vegetable is common to Italian and Nicoise cuisine.

How Swiss Chard Is Used

Swiss chard is mostly used as a cooked vegetable. The vegetable’s stems and leaves are generally treated as different vegetables but are often served together. The stems can become quite large and fleshy as they mature, thereby taking much longer to cook properly than the leaves. The stems are similar to asparagus in preparation, while the leaves are akin to spinach.

Young versions of the vegetable may have small enough stems that the stems and leaves can cook in the same amount of time. This is particularly true of perpetual spinach chard, which has smaller leaves with virtually no stems. Young greens may also be eaten raw in salads, but raw swiss chard is rarely consumed. Chard leaves grow rapidly, so there is minimal difference in taste between smaller and larger leaves; the older leaves are not noticeably bitter.

There are some recipes for pastry applications using chard, most notably tarts. These desserts are rarely seen, but some accounts describe a sweet chard, apple and pine nut tart as a traditional Christmas dessert in the Nicoise region of France.

The vegetable has affinities for olive oil, butter, saffron, garlic, nutmeg, parsley, hot pepper, cilantro, basil, lemon, red wine vinegar, pine nuts, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, chickpeas, pasta, and eggs. The stems and leaves can be boiled, wilted, steamed, braised, or sauteed. White stems may discolor while cooking, so they should be prepared in a blanc to protect their color.

Swiss chard is a member of the beet family. To that end, the medicinal properties ascribed to beets are also be ascribed to chard. For example, the juices of chard are reported to have a cleansing affect on the liver and spleen, and chard may help relieve headaches.

Generally, the leaves and stems are edible. The roots contain minimal sugar and are not especially flavorful. They are largely inedible.

History

Swiss chard is known in French as cotes de bettes, bette a cardes, blette, bette, or poire. The plant is part of the beet family, and is very similar to the beet plant except for its lack of bulbous roots. It is derived from the sea beet, which is native to European, North African, and Asian coasts. Swiss chard is a cultivated plant bred for its fleshy stalks and is believed to be native to the Mediterranean. The vegetable has been known in Europe since classical times, and was used by ancient Greeks and Romans as a wrapping for eel.

Swiss chard’s long history has been documented through writings for centuries. Aristotle mentioned chard in the 4th century BC; he categorized the vegetable with cabbage and thought the leaves were indigestible. He discards chard as a vegetable of the lower classes. Just the same, soups with chard leaves became everyday fare throughout Europe by the middle ages.

Part of the popularity of swiss chard comes from its hardiness. The plant grows well in partial shade and thrives in a wide range of soils. It grows best in rich, slightly acidic soil; gravel-rich soil leads to tougher, stringier stalks. The plant survives multiple frosts well and is therefore available locally long after other greens have ended their seasons.

There is no Swiss connection to the name of swiss chard. The vegetable is known in Sweden but is not a native of the region.

Storage and Preservation

Swiss chard should be stored in a cool, dry place. Do not pack it tightly, or it may bruise. Keep it moist; sprinkle with water if needed. Despite the hardiness of the plant, once picked chard deteriorates rapidly. Chard keeps best under refrigeration in a plastic bag and should be used within a few days of purchase.

For longer storage, chard may be frozen. Frozen swiss chard is available commercially. Frozen chard suffers from a degree of mushiness, but it may be satisfactory as an ingredient in a baked dish. Swiss chard does not can well and is not useful as a dried vegetable.

Characteristics of Quality

Look for vigorous, upright, dark leaves and smooth, shiny stalks on chard. The size of the leaves is not indicative of the quality; the leaves grow so quickly that larger leaves are neither tough nor bitter. High quality swiss chard has no blemishes and features crisp stalks. Color on the stalks and ribs should be vibrant, whether it’s white, red, yellow, or purple.

Purchasing

Swiss chard is in season in the mid-Atlantic from early spring through December or January. The vegetable is available at area farm markets for about $2 a bunch and can be purchased at a grocery store for similar prices. Wholesale chard is $15.30 per case from L&M Produce. Color and size do not have a significant impact on pricing. Peak season locally is early spring and again in late fall, when later crops begin to mature.

Chard is grown across Europe and around the United States. The vegetable does not ship particularly well, so most of the chard sold in the US is from local markets. Swiss chard is not graded in any particular fashion by size or color, although restaurants may specify these properties when ordering from some suppliers.

Varieties available include Monstruso with broad, tender white stalks, Large White Ribbed with less tender stalks, and Fordhook Giant with white stalks and savoyed leaves. Charlotte and Rhubarb are the primary red-stalked varieties available. Bright Yellow has yellow stalks and ribs, and Bright Lights comes in colors ranging from orange to pink and purple.

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Wow.

I had a few things to say but everyone else said them.

Good job, folks.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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i like to use the leaves finely chiffonaded in soups and the stems finely chopped and sauteed for a vegetable or added to a rice or pasta.. one of my favorite vegs and can't wait til the lafayette farmers market opens again

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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It's pretty much all been said, except I wanted to add that I was lucky enough to eat that F&W chard dish Laurel made, and it's really delicious. That would be a great one to try.

Oh, one thing I don't think has been mentioned, chard is great in a frittata. Just dice/shred and saute in olive oil with garlic, then proceed with your frittata.

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Grelos is a Spanish cooking technique that pairs chard with shallots, garlic, and currants, there may be a few more ingredients but they escape me right now. Most importantly, remove the stalk from the leaves, fine dice the stalk and either tear or cut the leaves up. Cook the stalks a bit longer then the leaves and leave the leaves green but soft, otherwise you get collard greens.

"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

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Hard to find a stone Malawry left uncovered, but here's my favorite: I chop the stems and leaves into 3" lengths and use a steamer for five to ten minutes (depending on quantity). Lately I've been using Devon butter on the finished product. Soooo good!

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I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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My favourite green. One thing to remember is that the leaves can stand my more prolonged cooking then other similar looking greens (spinach, turnip greens etc). A Croatian preparation that is quite simply is to boil some potatoes, in the last couple of minutes add the swiss chard, drain the lot, add to a pan with plenty of olive oil and crushed garlic (S&P), fold everthing to gether until the chard is soft, but don't crush the potatoes to much. For some reason the chard seems to enhance the flavour of potatoes.

If you can get cuttlefish, there is an Italian stew of chard (actually beet tops, but the are almost the same thing, hence the red/yellow/orange types of chard) and cuttlefish that is delicious.

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In the Eastern Mediterranean, Swiss chard often is used as a stand in for grape leaves: Stuff and cook them with the same kind of rice fillings.

The Turks use Swiss chard as a wrap for meat and grains. Green wheat or bulgur with lamb and pinenuts is a famous dish in Gaziantep in the south. Another fabulous stuffing I learned in the town of Trabzon on the Black Sea coast of TUrkey used toasted corn kernels, the insides of marrow bones, lean ground veal, scallions, red pepper, parsely, nint and tomato paste.

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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The bright lights variety is fantastically colourful - lloks like someone has gone crazy with food colouring.

I like to use swiss chard with pasta, cooked in evoo with garlic and chilli and sometimes anchovies. I also use it to make vegetable frittattas.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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In the Eastern Mediterranean, Swiss chard often is used as a stand in for grape leaves: Stuff and cook them with the same kind of rice fillings.

I once made an Indian recipe which was mashed potatoes with cashews, cumin and things in (maybe some sultanas?), wrapped in blanched swiss chard leaves, and briefly baked with a sweet tomato sauce. It was really good, but I can't remember where I got the recipe.

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Matthew Fort has a really, really good recipe for Swiss chard gratin here. It is really superb. I took a tip from our very own chardgirl and added a couple of teaspoons of Dijon mustard to it before baking, too.

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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Two more ideas that I've used for chard recently:

Gumbo Z'Herbes - boiled swiss chard, spinach, dandelion greens, radish & carrot tops down, pureed & added to a roux along with andouille, garlic, onions, cayenne. Very refreshing change from traditional gumbo, and a great way to use up the truckloads of greens in the fridge.

Pasta with ricotta & greens - sauteed rainbow chard in bacon fat, pureed with ricotta cheese, tossed with pasta & topped with tomatoes & crumbled bacon.

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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we used to do a great chard served with venison at the ryland. It was sauted chard but you sweat the chard by mixing with a fork that had a piece of garlic on the end so it imparts just a bit of flavor. When they were wilted we used to toss it with a touch of cauliflower cream to coat. That as the base braised bluefoot mushroom, venison medallion on top of that, small piece of clove gelle, a thinly slice rolled smoked beet and the sauce was a gastrique. It was a great dish but that chard was great and could be used for alot of other stuff. Almost liked creamed spinach but a whole lot better. The caulliflower is just chopped cooked in milk and cream and purred to a smooth consistency.

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Being in NW it might be nice to know that chard is one of the few greens we can grow in the winter that the slugs seem to leave along.

When it's small and tender we will sometimes add chard to a winter salad of endive, mache and rocket. To me chard has a "dusty" taste to it like beet greens than a spinnach.

dave

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Not that I can add anything, Wendy, but when I was teaching a cooking class this past weekend in Aspen, we made the Swiss chard tart on my site. One thing to keep in mind, which I noticed all the students didn't do: make sure to cook down/wilt the chard completely so that it's tender. The chard we had was particularly tough, and it wasn't pleasant eating. I made it again and used only the leaf part (minus the stalk and major veins), and it was much better.

David

David Leite

Leite's Culinaria

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