Your Guide to Swiss Chard, the Versatile and Approachable Dark, Leafy Green

Meet Swiss chard, the two-in-one vegetable that’s been overshadowed by kale and spinach for far too long! Versatile and easy to use, it’s a great addition to your next meal.

Rainbow chard on a marble surface

Lori Rice

Chard is the underdog when up against kale and spinach, but it deserves its moment in the spotlight, too!

For some reason, it doesn’t feel like a popular or go-to green, even though it has all the qualities and traits one could want in a vegetable. It’s mild in taste, easy to prep, and offers two different textures and components in one.

Plus, the colorful stalks are so beautiful that you only need to sauté them to have a gorgeous side dish that’ll brighten up your table! Chard is simply a great green to add to your weeknight rotation.

Varieties of Swiss chard with rainbow red and white stems

Lori Rice

When is Chard in Season?

Chard is available year-round but it’s best in the summer, when the colorful rows of stalks and bright green leaves are a welcome sight at the farmers market.

You can also find Swiss chard year-round in most grocery stores. Look for vibrant green leaves that are free of brown spots or withered edges with blemish-free ribs.

Ruby red chard

Lori Rice

Varieties

All chard is Swiss chard; it’s just stalk colors and names that vary! The stalks and leaf veins of Swiss chard vary in color from yellow to pink and deep red to white.

Chard with red stalks is called Rhubarb, Red, or Ruby Chard. Chard with multicolored stalks grouped together is known as Rainbow Chard. They all taste similar so you can use these different varieties of chard interchangeably in most recipes.

Chard is technically a member of the beet family (which is also why beet greens are delicious when cooked). In many ways, chard is a bonus green that has two vegetables in one: the leaves can be cooked much like kale or spinach, and the stalk can be cooked, too, which adds a different texture to the dish. (It’s much like celery.)

Swiss chard with white stems

Lori Rice

What Does Chard Taste Like?

Not quite as intense as kale, chard can be on the bitter side when eaten raw, but it becomes a pleasant, tender green when cooked. Because of its mild, slightly bitter taste, it pairs well with an acid (like lemon) and a bit of salt (like pecorino or parmesan) to balance it out.

The stalks are mild and taste more like celery, but do well with flavors like garlic or red-pepper flakes.

How to Store Chard

If the leaves are damp, wipe them with a paper towel, then wrap the full bunch of chard (unwashed) in paper towels and place in an air-tight plastic bag or container. It should keep this way for about a week in the fridge.

Tear chard leaves away from the red stem

Lori Rice

How to Prep and Cook Chard

Much like kale, chard’s leaves need to be removed from the stalk before cooking. I like to hold the end of the stalk, fold the leaves in half over it, then use my index and middle finger to form a hooked v-shape run down the length of the stalk, stripping the leaves from it. You can also cut the leaves away from the stem with a knife.

Folded chard leaf on cutting board knife cutting it away

Lori Rice

The ribs and most of the stalk can be eaten; just trim the end and slice to be sautéed or braised. Like broccoli stalks, chard stalks take a few minutes more to soften than the leaves, so cook them a bit longer.

Chard can be used much like spinach and kale: it’s great sautéed, added into soups and pastas, or even wrapped around fish and baked. While chard works wonderfully as a simple side dish with garlic, red peppers, and finished with a bit of lemon as a final touch of acid, you can easily add it to hearty, rustic soups and stews for extra green as it will soften and become tender.

Know that it might take 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time in soups or stews to become soft, which is longer than spinach.

Eggs with Swiss Chard
Elise Bauer

Recipes That Use Chard