Kale was 2013′s hottest vegetable, but we think it’s time for Swiss chard to take a turn in the spotlight. From the large, crinkled leaves to the colorful ribbed stems, this green is sweet, earthy and incredibly versatile. Read on for more tips for choosing and working with chard, plus our best recipes to showcase them.
Look for: In chard bunches, look for dark green color and crisp, large, spreading leaves. Leaf shape and size will vary by type. Avoid any bunches that have brown or yellow leaves, or ribs that are dry or wilted enough to bend. Depending on the variety, the stems and ribs can be scarlet red, golden yellow, or pearly white. Store chard in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Prep tips: Wash chard as you would other greens: fill a large bowl with cold water, immerse the leaves, and then lift them out, letting the grit settle at the bottom. Repeat with fresh water until completely free of grit. Spin dry in a salad spinner. If the stems are fibrous, use a paring knife to cut them away, along with the tough center vein that runs along the center of each leaf. Discard the veins. Cut and cook the stems separately from the leaves, as they will take longer to become tender. Sautéed or simmered, stem pieces will take 5 to 10 minutes to cook.
Uses: Like other dark, sturdy greens, chard can be sliced thinly and dressed raw; highlighted in soups and sauces; braised or sautéed as a side dish; chopped finely into fillings, and stirred into starchy accompaniments.
|Chopped Chard Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette
This colorful salad is as healthy as it is delicious. Fiber-rich chard lends a leafy crunch, while avocados provide a smooth textural contrast and are full of healthy fats; crisp apples and tart grapefruit add a subtle sweetness.
|Polenta with White Cheddar, Chard and Wild Mushrooms
This standout vegetarian dish features creamy, cheesy polenta topped with chard and a mix of sauteed mushrooms.
|Sautéed Scallops and Swiss Chard
Greens, lemon and tarragon make refreshing counterpoints to the richness of scallops and earthiness of chard. Spoon this colorful dish over rice so it can soak up the delicious sauce.
|Individual Swiss Chard Gratins
Here, nutty Gruyère cheese gilds a rich white sauce that’s mixed with mildly bitter chard, then baked into individual casseroles. A topping of buttery, Parmigiano-flecked bread crumbs adds an appealing crunch.
|Wild Rice and Red Chard Soup with Andouille
A few rustic and wholesome ingredients — wild rice, chard, tomatoes and sausage — come together in this soup to offer a satisfying and visually rich whole.
|Polenta, Fried Eggs, Greens and Blistered Tomatoes
Creamy polenta topped with fried eggs, sautéed greens and cherry tomatoes cooked until they burst is a wonderful choice for breakfast or dinner.
|Spaghetti with Garlicky Greens
This tangle of noodles and garlic-laden ribbons of kale and chard is a delicious way to eat your greens — and it’s super simple to throw together.