Chard

Background Info:

  • A member of the beet family but is grown for its leaves rather than its root
  • Goes by many names such as Swiss chard, leaf beet, seakettle beet, and spinach beet
  • Wide and crunchy stalk comes in a variety of colors such as white, red, yellow, and orange
    • When different colored varieties are bunched together it is sometimes referred to as rainbow chard
  • Leaves are deep green and can be either smooth or curly

Health Benefits:

  • Contains phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin to maintain eye health
  • Antioxidants and phytonutrients in chard may offer protection against oxidative stress & inflammation-associated diseases
  • Nutrients are more concentrated after cooking

Nutrition Information in (in 1 cup cooked):

Taste:

  • Mild
  • Earthy
  • Sweet with slightly bitter undertones
  • Slightly salty
  • Crunchy stalk (white stalks are most tender)
  • Stronger in flavor and sturdier in texture compared to spinach
  • Milder than mustard, turnip, and beet greens

Season:

  • Available year-round
  • Peak season lasts from June to August

Choose:

  • Leaves that are crisp with no browning, holes, or bruised spots
  • Stalks should be unblemished

Store:

  • Mature chard can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days
    • The stalks of mature chard can be stored longer if separated from the leaves
    • Baby chard can last slightly longer
  • Blanche & refrigerate or freeze:
    • Remove leaves from stems, blanch leaves in a large pot of boiling salted water for 15 seconds and drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess liquid. Let cool completely in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 4 days or freeze for later use
    • Stalks do no freeze well

Cook:

  • Use fresh young chard leaves  in salads and sandwiches raw
  • Otherwise, cook  by boiling, sauteing, steaming, or simmering to reduce bitterness
    • Add flavor, texture, and nutrition to soups, risottos, lasagna, ravioli filling, and egg dishes like omelets & frittatas
  • Stalks of mature chard are slightly tough and must be cooked longer than the leaves therefore prepare separately and combine before serving
    • Stalks can also be served alone, stuffed & baked, or to add a crisp texture to stir-fries and soups

References:

  • Hornick, Betsy. “Chard.” Food & Nutrition. July/August 2015. 32-33.
  • Gardner, Bryan. “It’s Easy Keeping Greens.” Martha Stewart Living.  March 2015. 42.
  • Ramdene, Hali. “Winter Greens.” Better Homes & Gardens. January 2016. 55.
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