Now that it finally feels like spring, I find myself wanting to prepare lighter recipes using fresh vegetables just coming into season. One of my “spring resolutions” is to try some vegetables I’m not very familiar with and don’t normally eat.
I wasn’t raised in a very food-adventurous family, and I usually just rotate the foods I know I like. One vegetable that I’ve never prepared is Swiss chard.
Swiss chard belongs to the same family as spinach and beets (another vegetable I never eat and aim to try). I found the taste to be very similar to spinach, just a little firmer texture to the leaves and stems. It contains over three dozen antioxidant phytonutrients -- a powerhouse of good nutrition!
The phytonutrients can be seen in its rich colors, the dark green in the leaves, and the red, purple, and yellow in the veins and stalks. The stalks range from white to yellow to red.
Rainbow chard, which you might see at farmer’s markets, isn’t really a specific variety, but rather a mix of the various colored varieties. Swiss chard also contains calcium and vitamin K, which help to support bone health, important for everyone, but especially cancer patients, because many cancer therapies may affect bone mineral density. One cup of cooked Swiss chard contains 100mg calcium.
It's also important to note that because of the high vitamin K content, those on Coumadin (warfarin) need to be conscious of keeping a consistent intake of foods rich in vitamin K, such as all-green leafy vegetables.
Preparing and enjoying Swiss chard:
- Young, tender leaves can be eaten raw. The larger leaves really should be cooked to help bring out their sweet taste.
- The stalks can be cooked and eaten, too. Depending on the size of the pieces, they may take a little longer to cook than the leaves.
- The easiest way to prepare it is by chopping and boiling in water for about 2-3 minutes.
- Use in recipes as a substitute for spinach – frittatas, quiche, vegetable lasagna, etc.
- Have it for breakfast -- I made a bed of cooked Swiss chard and topped it with an egg scrambled with some goat cheese.
- Toss cooked chard with pasta, chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and feta or goat cheese crumbles -- this is how I used the rest of the Swiss chard I cooked.
Have you had this vegetable before? If so, how did you prepare it? What vegetable (that you aren’t very familiar with) are you interested in trying?