Chard is a leafy green packed with nutrients like fibre, vitamin K and magnesium. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Here’s how to do it.
Can You Eat Swiss Chard Raw?
The leaves of swiss chard are commonly added to pre-packaged salads and can also be enjoyed on their own as a fresh, crunchy alternative to lettuce. The mild flavour and crisp texture of swiss chard make it an ideal complement to many other ingredients, such as nuts, fruits, cheese and dressings. It can also be used as a nutritious substitute for a tortilla wrap or taco. Raw swiss chard leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and magnesium, which are all important for a healthy diet.
One cup of raw swiss chard provides approximately 5 grams of dietary fibre, 4 grams of protein and just 30 calories. It is also a good source of antioxidants, including apigenin flavonoids like quercetin and vitexin, along with numerous carotenoids and betalains.
However, swiss chard should be thoroughly washed prior to consumption (unless it comes packaged in a ‘triple-washed’ or ‘washed’ label). This is to remove any dirt, insects and other debris that may have settled on the surface of the leaves or stems.
When choosing swiss chard, choose leaves that are bright green and free of discolouration. The stems should be firm and feel heavy for their size. The swiss chard should have a pleasant aroma and a fresh, vibrant colour.
Cooked Swiss chard is a delicious addition to soups and stews, or it can be grilled or roasted. It can also be added to pasta dishes, such as risotto. The leaves can also be lightly steamed, or combined with other vegetables such as bok choy and beet greens.
To steam swiss chard, bring water to a boil in a pot and place the leaves into a steamer basket. Leaves should be steamed for about five minutes or until they are wilted and bright green. The same can be done with a pan on the stove top, but be careful not to overcook the leaves, as this can cause them to become bitter.
If cooking swiss chard with the stems, be sure to separate them from the leaves and wash the ribs and tougher portions of the stems. The stems can be boiled, steamed or stir-fried and can be enjoyed on their own as a tasty snack.
To saute swiss chard, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add a handful of diced red or yellow onion and garlic to the pan, then add the swiss chard. Toss the leaves with a little salt and pepper, and add other vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, currants or pine nuts. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese and season well before serving. A splash of aged balsamic vinegar adds a nice balance of tart and sweet to the dish. You can substitute this with lemon juice if desired.