In Season: Swiss Chard
This leafy green is in season and ready to bring nutritional goodness to your table.
Chard (aka Swiss chard) is a member of the beet family, but doesn't produce an edible bulb. This green leafy has crinkly green leaves and silver stalks resembling celery ribs. Both the leaves and stalks are edible and the flavor is a cross between spinach and beets. The stems have an earthier beet flavor but are still delicious (even if you’re not a huge beet fan).
Common varieties include Ruby Chard, Rhubarb Chard, and Rainbow Chard. Ruby Chard has bright red stalks and deep red veins while Rhubarb Chard has dark green leaves with a reddish stalk and a stronger flavor. Rainbow Chard are other colorful chard varieties bunched together. The stalk colors vary from pink, orange, red, purple, white with red stripes, and ivory with pink stripes. Chard is in season during late summer into fall.
One cup of cooked Swiss chard has 35 calories, 3 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber. It has over 700 times the recommended daily amount of vitamin K and over 200 times the recommended daily amount of the antioxidant vitamin A. Chard is also rich in vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. It also has lutein, shown to help with eye health. This green leafy veggie is also part of the cruciferous vegetable (cabbage) family, which has been shown to help with cancer prevention.
To prepare chard, wash well under cool water to get rid of any dirt or pebbles. Also, avoid cooking chard in aluminum cookware as it will change color because of to the oxalates (naturally existing compounds) in the chard.
Chard can be used just like spinach. Use it in a lasagna or pasta dishes, add it to soup or sauté it with olive oil and garlic. The stem can be used as a substitute for broccoli or asparagus in dishes like in an egg frittata, omelet or stir-fry.
Choosing and Storage Tips: Choose chard with tender greens and crisp stalks and avoid those that are wilted or with brown or yellowing spots. Place fresh chard in a resealable plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Store for up to 3 days.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »