Everything You Need To Know About Swiss Chard

Swiss chard, like its brother kale, is a part of the greens family and is loaded with a lot of vitamins and minerals. Some of you may be wondering what Swiss chard even is, what it tastes like, and how to cook it. It is one of the most nutritious vegetables second to spinach, and Swiss chard nutrition tops many greens simply with its antioxidants. “Recent research has shown that chard leaves contain at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants, including kaempferol, the cardio protective flavonoid that's also found in broccoli, kale, strawberries, and other foods.” [1] This leafy green has red stems and dark green chard leaves, which go great in salads or cooking them down with olive oil, pepper, and garlic. Swiss chard nutrition soars above and beyond many foods out there today, so read up for optimal information on this nutritious green!

10 Swiss Chard Fun Facts

  1. “Swiss chard can reach 28 inches in height.
  2. Swiss chard produces large, shiny, dark green, ribbed leaves with long, white, yellow, or red petioles.
  3. Swiss chard is sown between April and August in the Northern hemisphere. Harvest takes place from June to November. Swiss chard produces three or more crops per season.
  4. Even though Swiss chard is a type of beet, it has an inedible root.
  5. Swiss chard is extensively cultivated in Switzerland, hence the name “Swiss”. The word “chard” originates from the Latin noun “carduus” which means “artichoke thistle”.
  6. Swiss chard is a rich source of oxalic acid, which reduces absorption of calcium and induces formation of crystals of calcium oxalates (type of kidney stones) in the urinary tract of susceptible individuals. Also, Swiss chard is not recommended for people on the anticoagulant therapy (because of the high level of vitamin K in the plant).” [2]
  7. “Swiss chard is a biennial vegetable primarily grown for its edible leaves.
  8. Swiss chard is commonly used raw or cooked, in salads or other dishes, or sautéed as a side vegetable, and is regularly used in Mediterranean cuisine.
  9. Swiss chard has large, glossy looking, bubbly textured leaves that can be green or a reddish purple color, and the thick stems or stalks can be white, red, yellow, orange, or purple.
  10. It is best to store Swiss chard unwashed, as it can otherwise easily deteriorate, and it is recommended that it be kept in a sealed plastic bag with air removed in the refrigerator.” [3]

Swiss Chard History/Mythology

Swiss chard is found in many Mediterranean style soups, salads, and rice dishes. It is very popular in France, and it grows well in this region because it can withstand colder temperatures and even be harvested right up until the first frost. [4] It has been said that Aristotle mentioned red-stalked chard in 350 B.C. and it gained popularity from that time forward. [5] “In the year 1848 it was listed among the beets. It was written that, “This is a hardy biennial plant, with leaves larger than the red beet, and very thick and succulent. It is a native of the seacoasts of Spain and Portugal. It is cultivated in gardens entirely for the leaves, which are boiled as spinach, or put in soups.”

The word “chard” originates from French word “carde” and it means artichoke thistle. It does not have a Swiss origin, and many are confused where the name actually came from. There are rumors that Swiss botanist, Gaspard Bauhin, first described this leafy green in detail, but that is not confirmed as true. [6]

According to the Fat of the Land,

“If chard were to have an associated nationality, it should instead be Sicily. Perhaps the sea beet’s earliest adopters, Sicilians introduced their own selections to the mainland—plants with tender leaves and stems, better adapted to garden cultivation than wild varieties. As chard was passed northward, gardeners selected for the qualities they preferred.” [7]

Swiss Chard Nutrition Facts

Swiss chard is known for its nutritional profile and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients have disease preventing properties and supply a rich amount of healthy antioxidants. Loaded with omega-3, the chard itself is very low in calories, only containing 19 calories for 100 grams of chard. It is also a great source of vitamin K, and provides 700% of your recommended daily intake with just one small serving! Talk about a powerful leafy green. Vitamin K is known for bone strengthening and limiting neuro damage to the brain. [8] Other vitamins and minerals include vitamin A, E, C, riboflavin, potassium, folate, iron, copper, magnesium, and niacin, just to name a few.

Swiss Chard Health Benefits

Swiss chard has some amazing health benefits, and one of those health benefits is the ability to regulate blood sugar levels. By consuming it, you will also have the ability to improve your digestion, boost your immune system, reduce fevers, and increase bone strength. One of the greatest advantages to eating Swiss chard is its ability to precisely regulate blood sugar levels. According to Organic Facts, “Syringic acid is one of the unique flavonoids found in Swiss chard, and it has a very unusual ability. It inhibits the activity of a specific enzyme called alpha-glucosidase. This means that less carbs are broken down to simple sugars, which allows the blood sugar levels in the body to remain stable.” [9]

Swiss Chard Varieties

There are many different varieties of Swiss chard to cook with, whether it is red Swiss chard, bright yellow, pink, or green! Some of the popular varieties I will list below, and they are readily available to buy as seeds so that you can grow them in your own garden! Please note there are many more varieties available, this is just a popular five that many people grow in their gardens, or even buy in the store today.

Green Lucullus

This specific variety has white stems and green leaves.

Neon Lights Blend

The stems are red, orange, yellow, and pink making it a very colorful variety of Swiss chard.

Flamingo

The stems are pinkish red with red veins. No color leaves were specified.

Barese

This variety is white with green leaves.

Oriole

The stems are bright orange and get even brighter as they grow. The leaves are a dark green color. [10]

Swiss Chard Uses

With these different varieties listed, you can make a beautiful Swiss chard salad, or other amazing Swiss chard recipes. Therefore, cooking Swiss chard is also an option. First and foremost you might ask how to cook Swiss chard, and it is really simple. Add the chard to a pan, and make sure there is some sort of oil or butter for sautéing. Once fragrant after a few minutes season with salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice and squeeze away the excess liquid. [11] There are many different ideas to incorporate that I will touch on below.

Making this delicious green does not have to be hard, and many times the recipes are rather simple. Just preparing Swiss chard by itself is good enough, but it can be incorporated into different dishes like soups, salads, breakfast dishes, salmon dishes, and any other protein meal that you can fancy up! Try this amazing yet simple recipe below and you will not be disappointed. There are a variety of different ways to season your Swiss chard if you are not a lemon fan either, so don’t be afraid to improvise!

Sautéed Swiss Chard With Garlic and Lemon Recipe

Serves: 4

From: Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 large bunches Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed and reserved, leaves torn into 2” pieces (about 12 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. “Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add red pepper flakes and half of Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing often, until wilted, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add lemon juice and remaining chard and cook, tossing, just until all chard is wilted, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper.” [12]

Bucatini with Swiss Chard and Garlicky Breadcrumbs Recipe

Everything You Need To Know About Swiss Chard

Bucatini with Swiss Chard and Garlicky Breadcrumbs

Serves 4

From: Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
  • 5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch small Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely torn (about 5 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mint
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Finely grated Pecorino (for serving)

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium. Cook garlic, swirling in pan often, until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer garlic to a small bowl with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add panko to same skillet and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl with garlic.
  4. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  5. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook anchovies, mashing with a wooden spoon, until only a few flecks remain, about 4 minutes. Add chili and Swiss chard and cook until Swiss chard is slightly wilted, about 1 minute.
  6. Add butter, pasta, and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to Swiss chard mixture and cook, tossing often with tongs and adding more pasta cooking liquid if sauce looks dry, until sauce is emulsified and coats pasta. Remove from heat and stir in mint, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  7. Divide pasta among bowls. Drizzle with oil; top with garlicky breadcrumbs and Pecorino.

Do Ahead: Garlicky breadcrumbs can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.” [13]