VINEYARD-STYLE SWISS CHARD: Beautiful, Healthy and Delicious!
Updated: Feb 24
Our winter veggie garden has been crazy prolific this year! We’ve enjoyed fresh greens almost every day—green butterhead and loose-leaf red lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, Italian dandelion and parsley.
The purple cauliflower was gorgeous (but taste-wise, kind of “meh”); while the chartreuse Romanesco was like a fabulous vegetable rendering of the spires and minarets of Islamic architecture. (Seriously—check out the photos!).
We’re still waiting for the Brussels sprouts to mature—and they better hustle it up, since we need the space for our tomato plants that are arriving on March 15! (Ok, who am I kidding? After waiting over three months, I’m not about to pull them up without first receiving their bounty! Take your time guys, I’ll just plant the tomatoes somewhere else…)
Anyway…Swiss chard grows with red, pink, yellow, orange and white stem varieties, or you can buy it in a beautiful mixed bundle of colors. (If I’m planning to prepare it for dinner, sometimes I’ll pick it in the morning and display it like flowers in a vase of water—it’s that pretty!). Full of vitamins A, C and K, as well as fiber, potassium, magnesium and iron, this super-nutritious green is often served as part of the Mediterranean diet. While it’s easy to use lettuce and kale in salads, raw mature leaves of Swiss chard can be a bit bitter. Luckily, this hearty, versatile green becomes mild and sweet when cooked. I love it in soups, frittatas, simply sautéed, and in a gratin.
But my favorite way to prepare it is sautéed with onions, raisins, pine nuts and lemon. This easy combination showcases the flavor and beauty of the veggie and is a perfect side-dish. Here’s my recipe, which is adapted from The French Market cookbook by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde.
Vineyard-Style Swiss Chard
3 pounds of Swiss chard
2 TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2/3 cup raisins
½ cup pine nuts (you can substitute slivered almonds or even walnuts)
Juice of ½ lemon
Set out all the ingredients, because this dish comes together surprisingly fast. It’s best served immediately; you don’t want the chard to go from brightly colored to a dark, unappetizing green color while you’re getting the rest of your dinner ready.
Start by soaking the raisins in very hot water to plump them up. (You’ll drain them just before adding to the cooked chard.) Then toast the pine nuts in a small skillet, shaking and stirring until they are golden brown. Don’t let them burn!! Remove from the pan and set aside.
Next, wash the Swiss chard; remove and save the thick stems from the leaves. (Flatten a leaf on the cutting board, then run your knife blade along each side of the stem to remove.). Roll the leaves lengthwise and slice into ½” ribbons; cut the stems into 2” pieces.
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium. Sauté the Swiss chard stems and onion for 5 minutes, then add the sliced leaves, garlic, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high, and cook while stirring gently, turning the leaves over as they cook down. When the chard is cooked but still bright green, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the drained raisins, pine nuts and lemon juice. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
-Despite it's name, Swiss chard is not from Switzerland. It's actually native to Spain and Portugal, and the Italians also make great of use of it in their cuisine.
-This is a forgiving recipe--so feel free to use less chard, add more raisins for sweetness or reduce the onions. Just don't overcook the greens!