Swiss Chard

21/07/2012 10:06

Swiss Chard is also known as leaf beet, or seakale. Its commonly known as Swiss Chard, even though it isn't Swiss. It's actually native to the Mediterranean area, but is now cultivated worldwide.

Growing swiss chard is easy, and is a versatile alternative to the much stronger tasting spinach. The leaves have a slightly bitter, earthy flavour and are excellent eaten either raw or cooked. Chard a member of the beet family has large, flat, crinkled green leaves with thick, fleshy stalks and ribs. Think of chard almost as two vegetables in one as both the leaves and stems can be used.

Swiss chard varies in colour having different coloured stalks and ribs-from red stems and veins and dark green leaves -called rhubarb chard, silver/white stems and veins and green leaves- called silver chard, to yellow/cream stems and green leaves. I grew Swiss Chard - 'Bright Lights' in containers on my patio the other year. Very tasty indeed and I guess they would even be pretty enough to grow in the flower borders too for their colourful stems and leaves.

The leaves can be harvested young or left to grow larger for cooking. The young 'baby leaves' are delicious in salads. The leaf and the stalks should be cooked separately, as the leaves cook more quickly than the stem, these can be added to soups, flans, tarts and omelettes. Wash, then cut off the stalks from the leaves and leave whole or chop, as required.

The leaves of Swiss chard can be useful for wrapping things up, try different meat or bean fillings, and bake the parcels in the oven with tomato sauce.

Chop Chard up and sauté in butter, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and either eat it on its own or toss it through some pasta with a handful of pine nuts.

Try Chard in this easy recipe -  CHILLI GREENS WITH GARLIC CRISPS