Thursday, May 17, 2012

Swiss Chard

Different varieties of chard exhibit lots of color. So much so that one variety is called rainbow chard. Those bright green leaves and multi colored stems hold a powerhouse of nutrition for our bodies. 

Chard is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. While the leaves are always green, chard stalks vary in color. Chard has been bred to have highly nutritious leaves at the expense of the root (which is not as nutritious as the leaves). Chard is, in fact, considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables available and a valuable addition to a healthy diet (not unlike other green leafy vegetables). Chard has been around for centuries, however because of its similarity to beets is difficult to determine the exact evolution of the different varieties of chard.
Swiss chard is high in vitamins A, K and C, with a 175 g serving containing 214%, 716%, and 53%, respectively, of the recommended daily value.  It is also rich in minerals, dietary fiber and protein.  Chard is also known for its iron content: the stalk retains more iron compounds than the leaves, hence their rosy color.

Chard can be eaten raw, sautéed or steamed and it can be used in the place of spinach or other greens in salads, soups and other cooked dishes.  Raw chard has a light texture and the leaves can replace the lettuce on your sandwich. Sauté the leaves and add them to pasta, omelets, or quiche. The leaves can be added to soup for a few minutes before serving to add flavor and nutrition.

To avoid spoilage chard should be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator

HINT FROM ONE OF OUR CUSTOMERS: "I never liked Swiss chard, until several years ago I had some that had been freshly picked from my local farmer's garden. It was so sweet and buttery I couldn't believe it was actually Swiss chard. It was then I learned that freshness was the key determinant to whether chard was delectable or detestable. Last night we had Swiss chard that we had picked up from Whole Foods. It was good, quite good. But not nearly as fantastic as the chard we had a week ago that we had bought from our local farmer. So here's a hint. If the thought of Swiss chard leaves you uninspired, get some from a local farmer that has been freshly picked. It is sort of like the difference between white corn picked that day, or the same corn two days later. The tastes don't even compare."

Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans and Fresh Tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 green onions, sliced
2 Tablespoons diced red onion
1/2 cup garbanzo beans, drained
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch Swiss Chard, rinsed and chopped
1 tomato, slices
1/2 lemon, juiced

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Stir in onions, cook and stir for 3-5 minutes, or until soft and feragrant.  Stir in garbanzo beans, and season with salt and pepper; heat through.  Place chard in pan, coo until wilted.  Add tomato slices, squeeze lemon juice over greens, and heat through.  Plate, and season with salt and pepper.

Great as a main dish or serve as a side for fish or meat.

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