Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wondering What To Do with Swiss Chard? Favorite Recipes and Ways to Use My Favorite Garden Vegetable

Swiss Chard & Artichoke White Pizza (recipe here)

Realization of the Day:
It's time to start putting those seed orders together!

My Pinetree Garden Seeds catalog arrived last week, and I've already marked everything I want to order. I showed extreme self control, if I do say so myself. Of course this is just the first catalog of the season.

Since tomatoes are technically a fruit, that means Swiss chard is my number one vegetable in the kitchen garden. I've said it before and will no doubt say it again: If could only grow two things, they would be tomatoes and Swiss chard.

Swiss chard is extremely heat tolerant and cold tolerant, incredibly versatile (it can do everything spinach does and more), and easy to grow from seed. You can sow chard seeds directly in the garden or start them indoors, and it does exceptionally well when grown in containers.

I grow Swiss chard year round in my unheated greenhouse, which gets as cold as 2°F in winter and heats up to 128° in summer. When it gets below freezing, I cover the plants with floating row cover and old bedsheets and blankets.

More below. . .

Volunteer Swiss chard in the greenhouse on 11-28-11 - InMyKitchenGarden.com
Taken today: all kinds of colorful, volunteer Swiss chard in the homemade raised bed greenhouse.

It may be the end of November here in Zone 5 Missouri, and we may have already had several mornings in the low 20s (and it may have snowed last night!), but the greenhouse is full of thriving volunteer Swiss chard, along with a bunch of seeds from the summer I haven't gotten around to collecting (which just means more volunteer chard as they drop to the ground and reseed themselves).

One of the most popular posts on In My Kitchen Garden right now is What To Do with Swiss Chard: Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip Recipe and Other Ways to Cook and Enjoy My Favorite Leafy Green, so I'm guessing lots of gardens and CSA boxes are still brimming with Swiss chard, too.

Making homemade carrot, apple, Swiss chard juice with fresh ginger - FarmgirlFare.com
Before. . .

Carrot, apple, Swiss chard juice - FarmgirlFare.com
After: refreshing carrot, apple, Swiss chard juice with fresh ginger is made in minutes.

I love to use the tender young chard leaves in salads, and lately the giant leaves (and stems!) have been going into the powerful little $50 Waring juicer I bought last year. What a healthy investment.

Our current favorite juice recipe is equal parts organic carrots and apples, along with a few big handfuls of Swiss chard and a good sized chunk of fresh ginger. The carrot and apple give it plenty of sweetness, and the ginger adds a wonderful zing. It's not exactly beautiful, but oh so refreshing! And our chickens always enjoy the leftover pulp. I also add Swiss chard leaves to fruit smoothies.

Swiss Chard Cabbage Salad with Broccoli Stems, Garbanzos and Cottage Cheese (recipe here)

As for more ways to use Swiss chard, here are my favorite recipes:

Besides the Swiss chard seeds saved from plants in the greenhouse, I still have some packets of chard seeds left in my stash, so I'm only going to order a few varieties this year—probably Pink Lipstick, Sea Foam, and a neat sounding new variety to both Pinetree and me called Prima Rosa. All three varieties are $1.25 for 75 seeds.

Pink Lipstick Swiss Chard (60 days): This is a gorgeous vegetable, with striking bright magenta stems and succulent savoyed leaves. Use it in salad mixes for brilliant color.

Sea Foam Swiss Chard (53 days): This interesting chard doesn't come in a unique color; it just has a great flavor and texture. Shiny, crinkled green leaves cling to a creamy white stem. This variety is mild, tender, and tasty.

Prima Rosa Swiss Chard (25 days baby, 50 days mature):
After a long winter, planting a patch of vibrant garnet colored chard will surely give you hope for the warm weather that is to come. Harvest baby greens (similar in appearance to beet greens) for salad and mix in with other early baby greens like kale, mustard, arugula and lettuce. As it warms and grows, the foliage morphs into a deep crimson red and holds onto its tender texture for a mature harvest.

I've grown the Seafoam and Pink Lipstick before and really like them. And doesn't the Prima Rosa sound wonderful?

Are you a Swiss chard grower and lover? Any favorite varieties or recipes to share?

© FarmgirlFare.com, where at the end of a magazine interview a few years ago, the journalist summed up our conversation by saying, "So you'd like to be known for Farmhouse White and Swiss chard?" Okay, so that's not all I said, but it sounds like a pretty good legacy to me!


  1. Vegetable gardener cookNovember 29, 2011 10:34 AM

    In The Joy of Cooking, there is a fabulous recipe for a "greens" lasagna. It is soooo good. I usually have to make a triple batch because my husband will eat it all. I've had kids who don't like vegetables eat it and really like it too.

    If you don't have a copy of The Joy of Cooking, I have a link to it on my website: http://www.mysuburbanhomestead.com/cookbook-review-joy-cooking/

  2. The first time I stumbled on your blog, it was you post about how to grow swiss chard and why you should. We're supposed to be zone 7 here, but I always have to anticipate zone 5 because of erratic weather patterns. From your suggestion, we planted chard outside in March, beside the peas. It wasn't something we had thought about planting... it's not really on the list of wildly popular produce like tomatoes and peppers. But we're so glad we did. We kept cutting it back and eating it all the way through... now, actually. It's something we'll be growing each year, from now on.

  3. Quiche with Swiss Chard, Courgette and Leek is amazing. Diane

  4. The swiss chard pizza is making me drool. And somehow I still have swiss chard in my garden.

  5. Almost all of my chard gets blanched and frozen for winter. Easiest vegetable side dish ever--defrost in the microwave, put in a pan with some olive oil, garlic, and maybe vinegar and sugar, and there's a green vegetable from the garden. In February. Love it.

  6. Swiss chard... I don't ever remember trying it. Is it similar in taste to spinach or beet greens? Have you heard of hay bale gardening? I stumbled on an article not too long ago which sounded very interesting for small spaces to which describes my yard area.

  7. Ciao! We grow loads of this hearty green on our organic farm in Italy - La Tavola Marche. Here we call it bietola. Two of my favorite recipes we cook: Chard & Ricotta Ravioli with Butter & Sage and Savory Chard & Prosicutto Tart - check out the recipe here: http://latavolamarcherecipebox.blogspot.com/2011/11/savory-chard-prosciutto-tart.html

  8. Lisa from IroquoisNovember 30, 2011 8:08 AM

    I am so jealous that you get that green loveliness all winter. I have to grow it, bag it and freeze it for winter supply. I must also confess however that in recent years I've switched from swiss chard to beet tops. I found chard less bitter than spinach but beet tops are less bitter again. Of course they work in all the same recipes :)

  9. Hi Everybody,
    Thanks for all the fun comments and Swiss chard serving ideas. :)

    Hi myhmmmcollection,
    I'm afraid I'm not familiar with hay bale gardening, but I'm definitely a fan of any technique that works for gardening in small spaces! :)

  10. A chard recipe that I have recently tried is one of Deborah Madison's for a Trouchia---a French Swiss Chard,onion,herb and egg sort of crust-less quiche or Frittata. Delicious and easy to make. the recipe is online with a Google search or in her cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

  11. We tried growing chard for the first time this year - we tried a lot of things for the first time this year, we are really garden novices - and I am definitely going to keep planting it. We planted the rainbow kind from Seed Savers Exchange. I really didn't get around to cooking anything earth-shattering with it, but my kids - surprisingly - like to pick big leaves and just munch on them. They imagine that the stems are celery and just chew away, right there in the backyard. And I honestly had no idea it would just keep like that - thriving in the garden, through drought and crazy heat, me not picking it, and months later, it's still there. Go figure.

  12. I live in Wisconsin and I have some beautiful chard to pick this weekend (December 3rd!) as our temperatures are dropping into the lower teens next week. If I have time I'll try the pizza; otherwise I'll freeze appropriate portions and try the pizza in January. I found some nice chard ideas in Marion Morash's Victory Garden Cookbook as well.

  13. Swiss chard is my favourite vegetable too! I most often cook it really simply... separate the stems from the greens, slice the stems and fry them with some chopped onion in olive oil. When the onions are starting to soften, add the slivered greens and put the lid on. If the leaves aren't still wet from washing, add a little water too. These pan steam up in minutes. Then I like to put them in quiches, omelets, as a side dish... They're very versatile.

    I've tried to grow Swiss Chard in my garden for many years, and they really haven't taken off. I think it may be that I keep treating them like other green leafy things and don't put them in a sunny enough spot. Kale is more than happy to naturalize in my garden, though.


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