As the daylight hours start to decrease and the temperature slowly drops, embrace the variety of fruits and vegetables available to us in the fall months. This month’s harvest, Swiss chard, is a great example of a leafy green vegetable with great flexibility in the kitchen and a rich nutrition profile.

Swiss chard: What is it?

Swiss chard is a close relative of the beet, but physically resembles spinach or kale.

Cultivated for its edible, colored stems and dark leaves, Swiss chard’s history traces back to Sicily. Now, it grows in the Mediterranean region and Europe.

Swiss chard is best from June through November. Find it at your local farmer’s market! Eat its delicate leaves raw in a salad, or sauté its colorful stems. Cooking Swiss chard removes some of the bitterness and highlights its mild, sweet earthy taste.

A Wide Variety of Chard

Varieties include:

  • We typically find Swiss chard at the grocery store with its distinctly large, dark green leaves and red stems.
  • Fordhook chard has long, thick white stalks with thick, crinkly leaves.
  • Rainbow chard refers to a bunch of chard that has a variety of bright yellow, red, orange and purple stalks.

All varieties of chard have a similar taste and nutrition profile—the only difference is in their color.

When shopping look for the characteristic vibrant green leaves with no brown or yellow marks or small holes. Once rinsed, store it in the refrigerator for a couple days, wrapped in a moist paper towel enclosed in a plastic bag with small pinholes for air.

An Abundance of Vitamins and Minerals

This powerhouse vegetable boasts an abundance of vitamins and minerals beneficial to our health. It is low in calories and high in fiber. Swiss chard also contains:

  • Phytochemicals that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. That includes Syringic acid, which aids in regulating blood sugar levels in the body. A great choice for those at risk of developing diabetes.
  • Vitamin K and Vitamin C to support immune health
  • Vitamin A for healthy skin, riboflavin and Vitamin B6.
  • Calcium to support and maintain bone health.
  • Potassium to aid in blood pressure control as well as iron and magnesium.

Try substituting chard in a recipe that calls for spinach or kale to gain all of these great nutrients.

Featured Recipe: Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins

Make this easy and delicious side dish. “Jewels” refers to the chopped stalks of the chard, which house a lot of the nutrients, so don’t toss them out! The addition of the anchovy fillets is optional, but they add a distinct, salty taste and almost dissolve completely into the dressing. The golden raisins add a touch of sweetness and texture, along with the tangy crunch from the raw red onion. Toasting the pine nuts releases their rich flavor, which is the perfect complement to this comforting side dish.

Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins

  • 4cupsblanched Swiss chard, jewels and leaves
  • 2carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4cupgolden raisins, chopped
  • 1/4cuppine nuts, toasted
  • 1clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4cupextra virgin olive oil
  • 3Tbspred wine vinegar
  • 2anchovy fillets, minced (optional)
  • 1/2tspsalt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl put olive oil, vinegar, garlic, anchovies (optional), salt, pepper and whisk well.
  2. Add Swiss chard, carrots, red onion, and golden raisins to the bowl.
  3. Toss ingredients until well incorporated and place on serving dish.
  4. Garnish with toasted pine nuts.
  5. Enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of Chef Leah Pryor, Nutrition Services UVM Medical Center
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