Also known as leaf beet, spinach beet, and chard, it ranges in stem color from white to magenta; chard’s green leafy stalks are related to the common beet. Both the stalks and leaves are beloved in Spain and Italy, sauteed in olive oil and garlic.
There are several varieties of chard, and it is the stalk that differentiates them—interchange chard in recipes. Swiss chard usually refers to chard with white stems. Red-stalked varieties are rhubarb, but this is different from rhubarb used to make pies. They can be red, ruby-colored, or Rainbow with multicolored stalks.
Swiss chard is a vegetable between spinach and kale — not as tender as spinach, not as tough as kale. Sauté in some olive oil in just a few minutes. Because stems can be tough, they can be discarded or boiled, then tossed with butter.
Swiss Chard Substitutions
Swiss chard is medium in flavor and has several options for substitution.
- Endive (a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole, frisee, and curly endive. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness — great served raw or cooked).
- Callaloo (a fast-growing tall leafy green from the amaranth family. Harvest young tender leaves or mature leaves/stems for cooking).
- Cress (any of several plants of the mustard family; used for their piquant young basal leaves in salads or as seasonings and garnishes).
- Curly endive (a hearty green related to endive and escarole, has narrow stems and frilly, very curly leaves. Eat raw in salads, but cooking mellows bitter flavor).
- Young dandelion leaves (also used to stimulate appetite, improve digestion and calm an upset stomach).
- Endive (a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole, frisee, and curly endive. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor).
- Escarole (leafier than kale and is sold in bunches that look a lot like a head of lettuce, with short, broad, wavy-edged leaves).
- Kale ( a green, leafy, cruciferous vegetable that is rich in nutrients).
- Mizuna (known as kyona, Japanese mustard greens, or spider mustard).
- Radicchio (a form of leaf chicory sometimes known as Italian chicory).
- Spinach (an extremely nutrient-rich vegetable).
- Turnip greens (the dark leafy green tops of turnips).
- Watercress (member of the mustard family, which includes many well-known leafy and tuberous vegetables such as collard greens, kale, turnips, and radishes).
- Witlof (a much-loved vegetable in the Netherlands; better known as Belgian endive in the States).
Chard comes packed in vitamins (vitamins K, A, and C); it is anti-inflammatory and helps the body manage blood sugar. Chard is listed in the same family as beets, spinach, and quinoa.
What is the best way to eat Swiss Chard?
Chop Swiss chard and add to other salad greens for a tasty salad. Chopped Swiss chard is excellent added to stir-fries, soups, or omelets. It also makes a beautiful side dish sauteéd in olive oil and garlic, then sprinkled with lemon juice and pepper.
Is Swiss chard better eaten raw or cooked?
The health benefits of Swiss chard make it an excellent source of vitamins eaten either raw or cooked. It is in the same family as beets, spinach, and quinoa.