“Eat your greens” said my grandmother. Growing up, my Italian immigrant grandparents always grew vegetables in the summer, and my dad followed suit. Now my husband is the gardener of the house. My grandfather built a “hot bed” in which he’d start some greens or small plants, like tomatoes or peppers, early and then transplant them into the larger garden. My husband also has constructed a raised hot bed for lettuce and swiss chard.
People my age remember watching Popeye’s arms bulge every time he reached for a can of spinach and gulped it down…
Greens are good for you. They also have a unique flavor, sometimes bitter, sometimes pungent. For this reason, many people turn their noses up if offered to eat kale, spinach, swiss chard, or collards. But like many vegetables, if they are cooked properly and creatively, they can be delicious, and if they aren’t made to be delicious, who is going to eat them? Nobody.
Move Over Kale
This year, my husband grew quite a great crop of tender swiss chard. There are basically two types – white or red. Chard is a medium to deep green color, has visible “veins”, but the stem may be red or white (light green). When picked fresh, the broad leaves are very hearty. It’s way better than kale (IMO) and is rich in Vitamin K, and also a good source of vitamins C, E and A – both antioxidants. It also provides magnesium, potassium and iron. Of course it’s high in fiber, and very low in calories, and is a great addition to your DASH Diet eating style – helping you lower blood pressure and stay heart healthy.
My husband made a salad with it one day, and this isn’t really the best way to enjoy it – the leaves are fairly thick, and not as tender raw. But there are numerous ways to cook it.
Simple ways to enjoy Swiss Chard:
- Always clean your greens. Rinse well with water, running your fingers along each leaf. Then drain and dry a bit either in a colander or with a paper towel or salad spinner.
- Once clean, you can chop the chard and saute in hot olive oil with garlic. It will cook in minutes.
- Chard is delicious with eggs. After the greens begin to wilt in the pan, add 3-4 scrambled eggs and cook. You could also remove greens from pan, pour in eggs and make an omelet with chard and cheese.
- You can also roast or grill chard. To grill, drizzle greens with olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then place whole leaves in bunches onto grill pan on grill. Turn with tongs once wilted.
- Roasting chard is quick and delicious too. You can coarsely chop it, or roast whole leaves. Place onto baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and cook in 425 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly charred. You can eat it as is, or add it to grain salads. Try my delicious recipe below. It makes a great side dish, or can be a main dish, portioned over rice or another grain.
Roasted cauliflower and chick peas with chard and feta.
1. Clean 1 head cauliflower, rinse, break into flowerettes
2. Open a 7.75 ounce can of garbanzo beans (chick peas). Rinse well, drain and let dry.
3. Place cauliflower and beans onto large baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 TB olive oil and toss to coat.
4. Roast in 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.
5. While vegetables are baking, clean Swiss chard and dry. Chop coarsely.
6. Add Swiss chard to pan, about 20-25 minutes into roasting cauliflower mixturre (cooking chard for 10 minutes)
7. Remove pan from oven. Add 3 ounces crumbled feta to a serving bowl. Transfer cauliflower-bean-chard mixture to serving bowl and mix gently.
8. Top dish with 3 TB Panko crumbs. Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil and return to oven for 10-15 minutes.
Serving size: 1 cup