I discovered Swiss chard a few years ago, and it has become one of my favorite vegetables. I plant it in the fall, and with a relatively mild winter it is likely to continue growing till the following summer. I pick the leaves, and they keep developing for more harvests.
I originally planted Swiss chard for its decorative value. It grows on stalks up to two feet tall and has vibrant-colored leaves and stems.Only later did I learn you can eat it! I tasted it and was thrilled to discover its delicious flavor.
The easiest way to eat it is raw. Stack the leaves and cut in pieces until one reaches the stems. Add the leaves to other greens for a colorful salad. Another simple way to prepare it is to boil the chopped leaves (without stems) for about three minutes and then toss with mediterranean dressing. I also love Swiss chard soup, my favorite concoction beginning with chicken bouillon, Italian sausage, onions and little red potatoes. Chopped chard leaves are added toward the end, as it only takes a few minutes for them to cook. There are many other great ways to prepare Swiss chard. If you like spinach, you will like chard; and you can substitute swiss chard for spinach in recipes.
As beautiful and delicious as it is, Swiss chard's best qualities are the amazing nutrients it contains. It is one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. Its vibrant colors hint at its antioxidant phytonutrients. This vegetable may sound like the "snake oil" once sold by peddlers, but it is genuine. It is an excellent source of vitamins C, E, K and A and is also loaded with minerals. It promotes cardiovascular and nervous system health, and it has anti-inflammatory properties. High in fiber, it also supports removal of toxic chemicals from the body. It promotes strong bones, and it helps to regulate blood sugar. All of this, and a cup of chopped chard contains only 35 calories.
So, have you eaten your Swiss chard today?