(rainbow Swiss chard stems)
Over the years I have noticed leafy greens are one of the most frequently asked for vegetables. With spinach ranking number one on the list it becomes not only boring for us cooks but also a challenge - the current weather conditions of high humidity and a very wet Spring, heat levels out of whack has taken its toll on these favorite greens and the supply is relatively sparse.
Spinach is certainly pretty to look at with its deep green color tones, curly tips, or the more civilized smooth edged baby spinach with silky texture. Baby spinach cooking is a breeze as it only needs a breath of hot air then it’s wilted and ready to eat.
(baby spinach at Satur farm on Long Island)
The Other Leafy Greens
Other greens came to my attention as I was looking for some diversity like bright green mustard greens which are tender and naturally spicy flavored, close to Dijon-style mustard. I like them tossed into salad - no cooking needed.
(Swiss chard bunches from Garden of Eve farm on Long Island)
Beet Greens are nice to look at with their beautiful crimson red veins reaching through the leaves with the beetroots still attached. It surprises me when at the Farmer’s market I witness that the greens usually get cut off at customers’ requests and put in the trash pile. This is a super tasty green that I put to great use in my kitchen.
Kale, naturally beautiful, often has a purple-green hue in its color coordination and a festive twisty-ridged shape. These leaves are a bit sturdier and stand up to robust taste cousins such as bacon, ham hocks and it requires a longer cooking time in order to get it palatable.
Collard greens are a cousin of cabbage and are loose leafed with a distinctively strong flavor. It’s comparable to kale in terms of cooking time and flavoring additions. It’s a definite staple in the southern US served year round usually with any type of smoked food addition.
And then there is Swiss chard…
Swiss chard is grown in different colors from golden, deep red and white reminiscent of rainbow colors. It’s at it’s peak from late spring to early fall and it’s hot right now. It’s cultivated from the beetroot and spinach plant family and is grown for it’s thick, juicy stems and gigantic fan-like leaves. I have been obsessively cooking Swiss chard for the last two weeks. From steaming, to roasting and grilling it’s held up terrifically. Chard is exceptionally impressive in its nutrient content, packed with vitamin A and naturally high in potassium and sodium similar to celery. It’s also high in calcium, iron, and magnesium and it tastes so good.
(sauteing Swiss chard)
Swiss Chard Recipe
(recipe yields four side portions)
2 bunches Swiss chard red, white, golden or a mix of all
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1-teaspoon vegetable oil
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh black pepper grindings
1. In a pot (2-quart sized) bring salted water to boil.
2. Rinse Swiss chard with water.
3. Cut stems from Swiss chard. Cut stems into 2-inch long pieces.
4. Boil Swiss chard leaves for 1 minute in water then transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice water bath.
5. Drain water from cooked stems and squeeze excess water from leaves.
6. In a pot heat vegetable oil on high heat setting then add garlic, after 20 seconds add Swiss chard stems and leaves.
7. Season Swiss chard with pepper, soy sauce and heat throughout.
Chef’s Note: If you decide to use red Swiss chard for this recipe it will tint your dish red.