There is a particular leafy green that always catches my girlfriend’s eye at the Farmers Market. She usually lets out an excited shriek and claps her hands when she sees this colourful vegetable on display. She bounces a little up and down and with a big toothy smile on her face she’ll turn to me exclaiming, “Oooh, look it’s rainbow chard!”
Swiss chard does indeed come in an array of varieties with stems ranging in colour from red, white, to yellow. Much to my girlfriend’s delight we now have two rows of chard growing at the Edge of the Woods Farm and she walks those rows with the same bounce in her step and smile on her face that she usually greets this nutritious green with.
Not everyone shares the same enthusiasm for chard as this woman who’s captured my heart. For some chard may evoke curiosity, as it is quite beautiful; however it remains an unfamiliar green. It’s many uses and preparations might not be part of everyone’s regular cooking repertoire. This past weekend at the Six Nations Farmers Market, three people within the first 15-minutes of my arrival asked what the colourful mix of chard was that was being sold, as they had never seen it before. My natural reaction was to begin preparing the chard for folks to try and become familiar with.
One can prepare the leaves and stems of the chard together or remove the leaves from the colourful stems and use them in separate preparations. For example, when the chard is young with tender leaves and stems; these can be used to make a salad. The more mature leaves are leathery and the stems are tough and need to be steamed, boiled, or braised.
This is how I like to prepare chard for myself and my chard-loving girlfriend.
Simple Buttered Swiss Chard Preparation
Bunch of Swiss Chard – have fun picking the colours that speak to you
Butter – enough to cover the bottom of the pan
Sweet yellow onion
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Wash the chard well.
Separate the leaves and stems of the chard.
Cut the stems into small pieces.
Tear or chop the leaves into manageable sizes.
Dice the onion and slice the garlic.
Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
Add the stems, onion, and a pinch of salt.
Cook until the onions are clear and soft. Add in the garlic and continue cooking until all vegetables are soft. Add in the chard leaves. Cover the pan. You may need a splash of water to steam the leaves until tender. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg (optional) to taste and enjoy.
Serve as an addition to a pasta or side dish to accompany a meal.