BY ALICE SCHULZ | 23 SEPTEMBER 2019
There is something wonderfully self-righteous about sitting down to a plate of greens, and in this leafy bouquet, you will find just that satisfaction. Chard, also referred to as swiss chard or rainbow chard, is a green vegetable with generous dark leaves and multicoloured stems. Available with stems in yellow, orange, pink, bright white, or scarlet, chard is one of the most eye-catching and colourful greens and therefore needn’t stay a neglected side dish.
Related to the beetroot, chard has something of the same assertive flavour. Essentially two vegetables in one, the delicate leaves have a mild, sweet flavour while the more robust stems have a delicious earthiness that mellows slightly with cooking. Often thought of as a spinach alternative, chard holds its texture better to heat than its long-lost cousin.
While the name may lead you to believe it originated in Switzerland, chard is native to the Mediterranean. It can be harvested both while the leaves are young and tender or after maturity when it is larger and slightly tougher and is best between July and November. Look for leaves that are big and crisp and stems that are stood up straight and vibrant in colour.
Chard flourishes with little work. The bright veins of raw baby leaves look beautiful in salads and while they dull slightly with cooking, are best left whole, and simply wilted in butter and garlic. Swiss chard has broader leaves and larger, more succulent stems that should be prepared separately. Chard has a particular affinity with lentils or cheese, although can be used in place of spinach or cabbage in any recipe.
Sautéed Chard with Garlic, Lemon and Chilli
1 bunch of chard (200g)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
Half of lemon, juice and zest
1 tsp chilli flakes
This is a perfect side dish for two or just a light and easy meal for one (think lazy Monday night after a weekend of overindulgence).
Chard is generally sold unwashed as it wilts and perishes very easily, so be sure to wash your chard before cooking. Cut off stem ends and then lay all the leaves, with stems, on top of each other. Holding the pile of leaves with one hand, slice into 2cm strips —this technique is called ‘chiffonade’ and is very fancy.
Heat a pan over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, being careful not to let it burn. Now add the chard and cook for 3-4 minutes until the leaves have softened. Remove from heat and add the chilli flakes, lemon juice and zest, mix well. Add salt to taste.