When you think of fall and winter foods, you generally think of turkey, pumpkin pie, butternut squash, and eggnog. Chard isn’t usually at the top of the list, but it should be! For all the talk about chard simply being a healthy green vegetable (which it is), good for maybe a health food smoothie addition (which, again, it is), chard is also hearty, versatile, and delicious. Not only does it pack a powerful punch of vitamins and nutrients into any recipe, but it can also pack some great flavor, texture, and color into a dish. If you’re still feeling full from Thanksgiving, give this leafy vegetable a chance. And the best part is, it’s easy to find throughout the city.
What is chard?
Chard, with monikers including silverbeet, Roman kale, and Swiss chard, is a vegetable with hearty leaves—green or reddish in color—and large white, yellow, or red stalks. It’s in the same family as beets and spinach, which should give you a clue as to its nutritional value. Chard can be harvested when the leaves are young and tender—perfect for raw salads—or after maturity when the leaves and stems are larger and heartier.
What’s it good for?
Just how good is chard for you? Consider it a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. An excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C, it also has significant amounts of vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber. This means chard helps promote bone health and prevent heart disease, blood clotting, high blood pressure, and stroke (vitamin K, magnesium, potassium). It helps your vision, immune system, reproduction, and the way your organs function (vitamin A). It keeps you strong and healthy (vitamin C), helps you have great skin (vitamin E), and provides life-giving oxygen to your organ systems (iron).
What about taste?
Nutrition stats alone, chard’s a hard one to turn down. But, what about taste? Is it so nutritious it ruins your lunch? Not to worry, chard has flavor going for it, too. The young, tender leaves are best in raw salads, sandwiches, and wraps. Conversely, the mature leaves and stalks are best when they’re cooked, sauteed, or roasted, where the bitterness fades and you’re left with a flavor delicate and refined. Versatile chard works well in pastas, soups, casseroles, omelets, or as a stand-alone dish of its own. For your next date or dinner party, consider some of these great chard recipes:
Herb, Chard, and Feta Soup: Perfect for a crisp autumn day, this pureed chard soup is creamy with yogurt and feta, yet bright with lemon and herbs.
Raw Swiss Chard Salad: Pack a nutritious punch and satisfy your picky palate with this fresh and delightful salad, complete with cranberries, almonds, and feta. Top it with salmon or grilled chicken for a complete meal.
Spaghetti Squash and Chard Saute: For a delicious, gluten-free pasta entree that has ‘Autumn’ written all over it, try this delectable dish of spaghetti squash “pasta,” chard, garlic, rosemary, and parmesan. Make it vegan with this easy vegan parmesan substitute, and dinner is served.
Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese: Bring out the best in both the leaves and stalks in this simple yet delicious side dish.
Savory Zucchini Chard Muffins: These savory muffins will have your mouth watering all the way to the potluck. Bacon, butter, zucchini, Swiss cheese, and chard in a muffin? – Yes, please!
Where can I get it?
That muffin recipe got you hankering for some savory chard now? Your trip won’t be far. Support your local growers by visiting one of the many NYC farmers markets, which happen every day of the week in neighborhoods all over the city. For Manhattan dwellers, check out this handy Citi Habitats guide for the market nearest you. Look here to get your chard in Brooklyn; check out this link for markets in the Bronx; go to this site if you’re in Queens; and for a list of markets in Staten Island, head here. NYC farmers markets are often a delightful mix of arts, crafts, food demonstrations, live music, and, of course, fresh, local fruits and veggies—of which, a gold medal goes to chard. To your health!