Swiss Chard

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Swiss chard is probably the perfect vegetable for people who don’t want to mess around with spinach. 

With its pretty, with scarlet, pink and yellow stems that contrast wonderfully with its green leaves, Swiss chard is such a beautiful plant that it’s being used as a border plants and house plants.

Swiss chard is a cool weather crop, but it can stand higher temperatures than spinach. Spinach defeats plenty of inexperienced gardeners because it tends to bolt when the temperature rises just a few degrees above normal. On the other hand, Swiss chard can stand temperatures down to 7 degrees F. It also has a mild, delicious, pleasantly bitter flavor.

History

Swiss chard isn’t from Switzerland, but from Sicily. It’s descended from the sea beet as are cultivated beets. People started calling it Swiss chard so they wouldn’t mix it up with French spinach. Go figure.

Nutrition

Swiss chard is not only easy to grow but is incredibly nutritious. It’s chock full of antioxidants including kaempferol. Researchers believe kaempferol is good for heart health. Chard also contains syringic acid which has been shown to regulate blood sugar. It also has an eye-popping amount of Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

How To Grow

Swiss chard seeds should be planted in the spring as soon as the ground is workable. Another crop can be planted in the fall in mild climates. Swiss chard can be grown in full sun or partial shade. Another good thing about Swiss chard is it’s not very fussy about soil conditions. Just make sure the soil has some rotted compost or manure mixed in. Rows should be spaced around 15 to 18 inches apart. When the seedlings pop up, thin them to eight to 12 inches. The thinned plants can be eaten as greens or even sprouts. Swiss chard chard can be harvested all through the summer. Make sure to water the plants thoroughly, especially if a drought hits.

When it’s time to harvest, cut off the outer leaves one to two inches from the ground while they’re still tender, but be careful to not damage the remaining leaves. Another good thing about Swiss chard is that it has no devastating pests. Sure, you’ll see some holes in the leaves now and then, but they won’t hurt the plant.

Serve it Up!

Prepare and serve Swiss chard just like spinach. Some people cook the stalks like asparagus. They take a bit longer to cook. Cook Swiss chard pretty soon after it’s harvested, because raw Swiss chard doesn’t last long.

Ready to have a little Swiss Chard Adventure? Then you positively have to try this Swiss Chard with Sausage Casserole (it is so freakishly perfect). In the mean time, share how you like your chard in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. Kerry Joyce says:

    I love it sautéed with egg hollandaise on top. Yum!

  2. My best impromptu breakfast is Swiss chard from the garden, wilted in a pot with chunky onions, a splash of hot sauce, a sprinkle of paprika, cayenne pepper and salt and black pepper to taste.

  3. Does the plant continue to produce more leaves after others are cut away?

    • Cutting off the bloom stalk produces more leaves for sure–at least according to information I read.

    • As long as you don’t remove ALL the leaves, you should be ok. Grow 8-10 plants at the minimum, and you should have a decent amount of chard. They don’t take up a lot of space and grow nicely upright.

      Swiss chard doesn’t turn bitter once it bolts, so either chop off the flower to help the leaf production, or let it go to seed and collect for next year. :)

    • That is true. The leaves grow out from the center or middle of the plant so you start using the outer leaves 1st that way you are able to harvest many times from one single plant.

  4. Can you use the stalks like celery? or are they too tough?

  5. Pam Jacobs says:

    If you throw the stems away, you are throwing away perfectly tasty food!!!
    from http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2008/02/baked-swiss-chard-stems-recipe-with.html

    Baked Swiss Chard Stems with Olive Oil and Parmesan
    (Makes 2 side dish servings, can be doubled. Recipe slightly adapted from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop.)

    Ingredients:
    1 bunch chard stems
    1/4 tsp. salt
    olive oil for spraying pan and chard
    1/4 cup coarsely grated parmesan cheese (I used Grana Padano from Costco, but any type of hard aged cheese would be good here.)
    coarse ground black pepper to taste

    Instructions:
    Trim any discolored ends from chard stems, then cut stems on an angle into pieces about 3 inches long. If some stems are very thick, you may wish to cut them lengthwise so all pieces are approximately the same thickness.

    Preheat oven to 400 F (or 375 F with convection.) Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt and chard stems and boil about 6 minutes. Let chard drain well.

    Spray a non-stick baking dish with olive oil. Place chard in the pan and mist lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with cheese. (If doubling the recipe, make two layers, misting each layer with oil and sprinkling with cheese.) Bake about 20 minutes, or until chard is softened and cheese is slightly browned on the edges. Season with fresh ground black pepper if desired and serve hot.

    YUM!

  6. Seems like Candice’s recipes are no longer on your site. did you delete them?

    • Hi there! I did! I posted last week about removing the work per our contract. Was there a recipe you’re missing that you needed? If so, shoot me an email and I’ll try to help.

      • Aww shoot!! I had intended to save some of those recipes, but life got in the way over the weekend. :( Oh well, that’s okay because you have some very good recipes yourself! Was the one-minute microwave dessert hers or yours?

        • Hi, Lisa! That one’s mine. I excel in the quick and the tasty, so if it’s microwavable, it’s mine. If there’s anything you’re looking for and can’t find, please email me and let me know.

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