Chard of Many Colors

Chard will always be there for you. Like a reliable friend, it is one of the greatest, and often least appreciated, of all the gifts from your local farmer.

Chard’s long, thick stalks have wide, glossy green leaves that may be smooth or curly, depending on the variety. The stalk comes in many colors, from white to green to brilliant red, yellow, and pink. At many farmers markets you’ll see the flashy Ruby Red and Bright Lights varieties. They are glamorous and hard to resist, but the old-fashioned varieties with white stems and green leaves are even tastier.

TRUE BLUE, EXCEPT IT’S GREEN

Not only is chard giving, it’s forgiving too. It’s much more heat-resistant than spinach, grows well under most weather and soil conditions, and is disease resistant and bug resistant too. After harvesting, the inner leaves come back quickly, so you’ll see chard at farmers markets from early June clear through Thanksgiving. And at PFP, we have it growing in our high tunnels for the Winter CSA Share! Because it’s always there, you might take it for granted, but, as with a good friend, you shouldn’t.

EASY, TASTY AND CONVENIENT

Chard is as close to perfect as a vegetable can get—a low-calorie, high-nutrition green with a mildly sweet, clean taste. It’s also a fast food. Tender young chard leaves can be eaten raw, adding a beet-like flavor to salads and sandwiches. Larger stalks and leaves can be blanched in boiling water, or sauteed up in a matter of minutes, quick and easy. Then toss the cooked chard into pasta with olive oil and garlic, add to omelets and frittatas, or use instead of spinach in your favorite recipe.

This article had been adapted from Farm Fresh Now! a project of The Land Connection. See below for two tasty winter chard recipes.

 Pancetta, White Bean, and Chard Pot Pies from  Smitten Kitchen

Pancetta, White Bean, and Chard Pot Pies from Smitten Kitchen

 Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin from  Smitten Kitchen

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin from Smitten Kitchen