Chard

chard.gifChard: We grow a very popular variety called Bright Lights.
 
Chard is a beet that has been chosen for leaf production at the expense of storage root formation.

Chard will produce fresh white, yellow or red leaf stalks. It is an attractive ornamental that adds color to the vegetable garden.

Nutritional value and health benefits: Chard packs a huge amount of vitamin A and it is naturally high in sodium. One cup contains 313 mg of sodium, which is very high for vegetables. Chard is also surprisingly high in other minerals as well, i.e., calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

Nutrition Facts (1 cup chopped)

    Calories 35
    Protein 3 grams
    Carbohydrates 7 grams
    Calcium 102 mg
    Iron 4 mg
    Magnesium 151 mg
    Phosphorus 58 mg
    Potassium 960 mg
    Sodium 313 mg
    Vitamin C 32 mg
    Folate 15 mcg
    Vitamin 5493 IU

Preparation and serving: Young tender chard leaves can be eaten raw adding a beet-like flavor to salads and sandwiches. Chard can be used in place of spinach in any recipe, although chard will need to be cooked a bit longer. When cooking older chard, the stems require longer cooking time than the leaves.

Home preservation: Chard leaves freeze well after blanching, but the stems become soggy and rather unappealing. Canned chard does not fare as well producing a product similar to canned spinach.

To freeze:

  1. Prepare a sink of cold water. Rinse chard through several changes of water lifting leaves out leaving sand and soil behind. Then separate the stems from the leaves.
  2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Drop about one pound of whole leaves in boiling water, cover and blanch for 2 minutes (blanch stems for 3 minutes).
  3. Remove chard from water and immerse in an ice water bath for 2 minutes. Drain.
  4. Pack in zip-closure freezer bags or freezer containers, leaving no headspace. Label, date and freeze at zero degrees for up to one year.

Recipes:

Wilted Swiss Chard with Garlic
Chard is a tender green and benefits from a brief cooking period. Wilted greens are simply sautéed in oil, covered and cooked without adding any cooking liquid. Tender greens such as beet greens and spinach can also be prepared in this manner.

  • 2 pounds Swiss chard, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice, optional

 

  1. Wash the greens in several changes of cold water. Fill the sink with cool water and swish the greens through the water one hand full at a time.
  2. Remove the stems and chop into one-inch pieces. Set aside.
  3. Stack the leaves and roll them into a scroll. Using a sharp knife cut across each scroll until all the greens are prepared.
  4. Mince the garlic and set aside.
  5. Heat a skillet or heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and chopped stems. Sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté an additional 15 seconds.
  6. Add the wet chard one hand full at a time. Stir after each addition. After all the greens have been added, immediately cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the greens to cook or wilt about 5 minutes. They should be wilted and still bright green in color.
  7. Remove the lid and continue cooking over high heat until all the liquid has evaporated, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired. Serves 4.