Shopping at a farmer's market is one of my favorite things to do. I love browsing all the fresh produce and getting inspired by recipe ideas, but I'll be honest that I used to be less than enthusiastic when winter rolled around and all that could be found were winter greens like chard. That is, until I finally broke down and bought some. After trying several easy chard recipes, I couldn't believe I'd been missing out on this amazing ingredient for so long.
The Benefits of Chard
Much like spinach, Swiss chard, as this leafy green is officially known, is chock-full of nutrients. Chard is high in calcium, with about 18 milligrams per cup, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. It's also rich in iron and vitamin C. All of these health benefits make it well worth adding to your daily diet since it is also low in calories.
How to Use It
As a general rule of thumb, chard is pretty easy to swap out for most recipes that call for kale or spinach. It's less bitter than kale and less metallic than spinach, but offers the same consistency and texture with more of a lettuce-leaf flavor. It's very easy to cook with and versatile, pairing with everything from soups and stews, to salads and pasta dishes. Here are three simple chard recipes to get you started.
1. Sautéed Chard
This is one of the easiest chard recipes for a beginner, but the results are a delicious side dish that pairs well with fish or works as a light side for a spicy curry. You'll need:
- 2 bunches chard, stems and center rib removed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter, or butter substitute
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- lemon juice
Cut the chard into ½ inch strips. Heat olive oil and butter in a pan on medium low. Add garlic. Add chard and stir for about 1 minute. Cover and let cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add some lemon juice to taste.
2. Chard Pesto
I've been a diehard fan of spinach pesto forever, so once I discovered how good chard is, I decided to swap it out. I love it even more for the zip it adds to this recipe. All you need is:
- 4 cups chopped chard, stems and center rib removed
- 2 cups basil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- ⅓ cup olive oil
Place all the ingredients except the olive oil into a blender or food processor and mix. Pour the olive oil in slowly as the blender runs, and blend until smooth. Use with pastas or as a sauce for vegetables or meat dishes. Store covered in the fridge for up to two weeks.
3. Mushroom and Chard Pizza
Pizza is always a fun way to sneak in vegetables, especially for selective eaters. You can use a pre-made crust for a fast weeknight dinner, or make a cauliflower crust from scratch for extra veggies.
- Pizza crust or dough
- 1 ½ cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup chopped chard
- 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
Top the pre-made crust or dough with the sauce, cheese, chard, and mushrooms. Bake in the oven following the dough package directions.
What are your favorite ways to prepare chard? Share your favorite recipes for leafy greens on Twitter.
Image source: Sher Warkentin | Sher Warkentin | Sher Warkentin
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Why It’s Good
Winter greens can feel daunting to add to your diet, but the truth is they are actually easy to cook and extremely versatile. Try these easy chard recipes to start incorporating this tasty winter green into your diet.