We skipped 3 months of Veggie of the Month, but we’re back on track now. Since our local Farmer’s Market is in full swing, choosing a seasonal VOTM was much easier – if it’s for sale, it’s seasonal. June’s VOTM was Swiss Chard. Almost every Farmer’s Market vendor had lots of chard available. The rainbow chard sure is pretty, but the stand that was carrying it did not identify where it came from. Norway Farms had a “Homegrown” sign on their chard, so we chose their slightly less colorful variety.
The research phase of our Veggie of the Month project told us that we made a wise nutritional choice. Swiss chard packs quite a healthy punch – vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants galore. Chard belongs to the spinach/beets family. It is available year-round (and there are some terrific winter recipes that I can’t wait to try), but chard is best during the summer months. Both the leaves and the stalks of the plant are edible, but they require different cook times because the stalks are so much tougher than the leaves. Chard falls between spinach and collard greens in terms of flavor and texture (which was confirmed by my tasting panel after we prepared the dish). Most recipes I have found use sugar to counterbalance the bitterness in the greens.
Since I cannot recall ever eating swiss chard, I chose a very simple preparation so that we would be sure to actually taste the vegetable. We went with a saute topped with breadcrumbs. The grown-ups enjoyed it. The kids did not spit it out, but they were not enthusiastic about the dish. However, it usually takes several tries before a new main ingredient gains acceptance, so we will keep making chard until Little Hippie discovers her passion for it.
Sauteed Swiss Chard
Yield: 4 side-dish servings
- 2.5 Tablespoons of butter
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 pounds swiss chard
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 clove garlic, minced
- pinch of sugar
- pinch of salt (add carefully – chard gets very salty very quickly)
- freshly ground pepper
- Separate the chard leaves from the stalks. Slice all in 3/4″ pieces, keeping the leaves and stalks separate.
- Melt 1/2 Tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Toast the breadcrumbs, then set them aside and wipe the pan clean.
- Melt remaining butter over medium heat. Add the chard stalks and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, sugar and chard leaves. Cover and cook until the leaves wilt (about 5 minutes), then uncover and cook until the liquid evaporates.
- Add vinegar and a grind or two of pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Top with breadcrumbs and serve.