Friday, July 15, 2016

How to Prep, Cook and Store Swiss Chard

As part of the food blogger world, I sometime really wonder - "what in the world are you all thinking?!"   Not everybody in the world thinks the same things are delicious, take for example anchovies, or kale. The whole food world seems to be in love with kale, and I just can't get on board. 

I buy it, I serve it to my family, and we just can't get the hang of it. Every once in a while, I'm make it in something that we don't all hate, but I can't fall in love with it like the rest of the food world seems to have done. 

When we got our CSA box there was some kale in it, but also swiss chard. I was super excited to cook with the chard, but I had a lot of learning to do, I can't remember ever cooking with it before. 

Swiss Chard is actually from the Mediterranean area and not actually Swiss like the name says. It goes by other names such as, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet, bright lights, seakale beet, mangold, or even just as spinach in South Africa. It is part of the beet family, although it is grown just for the greens / stalks. 

It is low in calories and very high in vitamins and anti-oxidants making it a great choice when you are wanting to eat healthy. 

Although it can be found year round, and is generally thought of as a winter vegetable, the peak growing (and eating) season is in summer.

When buying Swiss chard, look for vibrant color and unbruised leaves and stems. The leaves should be firm and not wilted. Although chard leaves are always a dark green, the stems can be white, yellow, or bright red. There is not a very noticeable flavor difference between the colors, although the red stems can bleed a red or pink color into the other foods it's cooked with. (Like members of its family the beet)

Keep in mind that rainbow chard is not a variety of chard — it's just various colors of chard that are bunched together to be sold.

After washing the chard, stack it together, trim the ends of the stems, then cut the stems from the leaves. If there are thick ribs in the leaves, cut them out. Stack the leaves and cut crosswise into ribbons or pieces and they're ready to go.

While the stems are not as commonly used as the leaves, you can use them like you would celery in most dishes, they are just separated from the leaves because the cooking times as so drastically different. 

You can eat or cook chard in the same exact way that you would use spinach or "greens". 

You can use them in salads, wraps, wilt them down into stir-fries or saute's.  It can also be used in soups, or casseroles. Use chard anywhere that you would use spinach or other mild tender green.