What is Swiss Chard?
It isn’t Swiss, for starters. It’s not clear where it’s from originally, most likely somewhere in the Mediterranean. Chard has gone by so many names over the centuries. A kind of beet green is what chard actually is. The Swiss chard we find in our markets, with its long white stems, is prized by Mediterranean cooks for flavoring soups and rice dishes. Swiss chard is grown abundantly in the districts around the Rhône valley because it can withstand cold weather, and is harvested up until the frost.
Although Swiss chard was known by the ancient Greeks, it is not always recognized in historical literature because of the enormous variety of names, in various languages by which it is and has been called and because of its relation to the beet family. In English it is also known under these names: chard, white beet, strawberry spinach, sea-kale beet, leaf beet, Sicilian beet, spinach beet, Chilean beet, Roman kale, and silverbeet. Originally, chard was a corruption of the French word for cardoon, carde, and the Swiss cardoon, a misnomer that William Woys Weaver, author of Heirloom Vegetable Gardening, likens to another famous misnomer, “Jerusalem artichoke.”
This vibrant, rainbow-hued vegetable is the top leafy green source of iron and manganese, both of which play a key role in balance control — which becomes increasingly important as we age. Manganese is particularly adept at subbing for other minerals in a pinch, but when manganese stores are ransacked, other manganese dependent functions (like healing and balance) may suffer. Harvard scientists examined the effects of this interplay in a basic study that matched mineral intake against balance and coordination. They found that iron deficiency caused a 77% increase of manganese loss in several motor-control brain regions of rats. This compensation depleted manganese stores, causing a 26% decline in balance ability. When additional manganese was added to the diet, balance improved by 33%. One cooked cup provides 22% iron and 29% manganese and 15% of daily fiber — for a mere 35 calories.
Garlicky Sauteed Greens
This is a basic recipe for cooking greens and it is an excellent side dish for any entree.
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 16 cups (packed) stemmed and roughly chopped swiss chard (about 5 large bunches)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat garlic and oil in large skillet over medium-low heat until garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to small bowl and set aside.
Add greens, red pepper flakes, and salt to skillet. Using tongs, turn greens until wilted enough to fit in pan. Raise to medium, cover, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking process. Transfer greens to a colander to drain. Return to pan and toss with reserved garlic and oil mixture.
Meatballs in Swiss Chard-Tomato Sauce
Ground turkey will work just as well as beef and pork in the meatballs.
Makes 6 servings
For the meatballs:
- 1 cup (2 ounces) fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons skim milk
- 3/4 pound lean ground pork
- 3/4 pound lean ground beef
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the sauce:
- 2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound Swiss chard, rinsed but not dried, stems chopped, leaves shredded crosswise
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 3 cups homemade marinara sauce
To make the meatballs, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk and let stand 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the pork and veal, soaked bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, parsley, wine, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Form into 18 medium or 24 small meatballs and arrange them on an ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Bake, turning the meatballs once, until browned on both sides, about 30 minutes.
To make the sauce, in a large frying pan over medium-low heat, warm the garlic in the olive oil, stirring often, until it begins to release its fragrance, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chard stems, raise the heat to medium, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the leaves and any water still clinging to them, cover, and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon and the red pepper flakes and cook, uncovered, until the chard is tender, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the raisins and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook until the raisins are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the meatballs, cover, and simmer gently so the meatballs will absorb some of the sauce, about 10 minutes. Taste and add additional salt if you like.
Scoop the meatballs into a serving bowl or individual bowls, top with the sauce, and serve.
Swiss Chard and Ricotta Tortelli
Tortelli are a stuffed pasta cut into square shapes.
4 to 6 servings
- 2 pounds Swiss chard (1 1/2 to 2 bunches)
- 8 ounces skim ricotta cheese (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta cooking water
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/4 cups “00” Italian flour or all purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bring a large saucepan of generously salted water to a boil.
Cut leaves from stems and center ribs of chard; rinse leaves (reserve stems and ribs for soup or for another use). Add chard to boiling water; simmer until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander; cool. Using your hands or a kitchen towel, squeeze out all excess liquid from greens, then finely chop (you should have about 1 cup greens).
In a bowl, stir together chard, ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, salt and pepper. (Filling keeps in an airtight container and refrigerated, for up to 1 day.)
Put flour and eggs in the work bowl of the processor and process until the dough forms a ball.. Begin using dough immediately, or cover completely with a clean dishtowel and let rest for a few minutes.
Divide pasta dough into four pieces. Cover 3 pieces with a clean dishtowel. Flatten dough so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine. Set rollers of pasta machine at the widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it is smooth and the width of the machine. Roll pasta through machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), until pasta sheet is 1/8-inch-thick.
Lay pasta sheet on a lightly floured work surface with the long side facing you. Starting from the left end of the dough, about 2 inches from short edge, put 1 level tablespoon filling on to dough. Continue putting tablespoons of filling onto dough, each about 1 1/4 inches apart, until you reach end of pasta sheet. Fold dough over filling, lengthwise, then, using your fingers, gently but firmly press spaces around each mound to eliminate any air pockets. Using a pasta cutter, cut between mounds to form tortelli, then trim the unfolded edges.
Transfer tortelli to a cornmeal or semolina flour coated baking sheet and cover with a clean dishtowel. Repeat with remaining dough and filling to create 40 tortelli. (Tortelli can be boiled immediately, or kept, each layer separated by and covered with a clean dishtowel, in refrigerator for up to 2 hours).
Heat oven to 200º F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat; keep warm over very low heat.
When water comes to a boil, add 2 tablespoons salt. Add about 1/3 of the tortelli to the boiling water. Allow water to return to an active simmer (not a full boil), and cook until edges are tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer tortelli to a large serving bowl, or to individual bowls. Drizzle with 1/3 of the butter and cheese and put into oven to keep warm.
Repeat with remaining tortelli, butter and cheese. Once all tortelli are cooked, drizzle with 1 tablespoon pasta cooking liquid to moisten. Serve immediately.
Sirloin Steaks with Garlicky Swiss Chard
- 2 lb. sirloin steak, 1 inch thick
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary, coarsely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup dry red wine, such as merlot
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon. Dijon mustard
- 2 large bunches Swiss chard (about 1-1/2 lb. total), stems very thinly sliced and leaves roughly chopped
- 2 oz. Pecorino Romano, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler (1 cup; optional)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Trim and cut the steak into 4 portions. Season the steaks all over with the rosemary, 2 teaspoons. salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large ovenproof (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange the steaks in the skillet in a single layer and cook, turning once, until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to the oven and roast until medium rare (130°F to 135°F), 4 to 6 minutes more. Set the steaks aside to rest on a serving plate.
Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium-high heat. Carefully add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, until reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the garlic to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Whisk in the vinegar, sugar, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil while whisking constantly.
Add the chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 5 minutes. Add the chard leaves in batches and cook, tossing, until the leaves are wilted enough to fit comfortably in the skillet, about 2 minutes. Cover the skillet and cook, tossing once or twice, until just tender, about 5 minutes.
Place the chard mixture on top of the steaks. Sprinkle with the Pecorino Romano, if using, and serve.
Serve with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, which can roast right alongside the steak at 400 degrees F. (though they’ll need to begin roasting before the steak goes in).
- 1-3/4 lb. fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and halved
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar or coarsely ground in a spice grinder
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 12 large cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed
Use the oven temperature set in the recipe above if making the potatoes with the steak. If not, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, rosemary, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few generous grinds of pepper. Arrange them cut side down in a well-spaced single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow roasting pan, making sure to scrape out and include any herbs and oil stuck to the bowl. Roast for 20 minutes and then stir the potatoes with a spatula and scatter the garlic cloves over them.
Continue roasting, stirring every 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender enough to pierce easily with a skewer and the skins are browned all over, crisp, and bit shriveled, about 30-40 minutes more. Serve immediately.
Onion Pizza With Ricotta And Chard
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 pounds onions, sliced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 pound chard, stemmed, leaves washed
- 1 pound whole wheat pizza dough, homemade or store bought
- 3/4 cup ricotta (6 ounces)
- 2 ounces Parmesan, grated (1/2 cup, tightly packed)
- 1/4 cup egg substitute
1. Thirty minutes before baking the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until tender and just beginning to color, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme, garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown and very sweet and soft. Remove from the heat.
2. While the onions are cooking, stem and wash the chard leaves, and bring a medium pot of water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the chard. Cook for two minutes, drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop the chard medium-fine.
3. Spread the dough on a pizza pan that has been oiled and dusted with cornmeal.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, egg substitute, Parmesan and chard. Spread over the pizza dough in an even layer, leaving a 1-inch border around the rim. Spread the onions over the ricotta mixture.
5. Place in the hot oven, and bake 15-20 minutes until the crust and bits of the onion are nicely browned.
Advance preparation: The cooked onions and the cooked chard will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator.
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