relative of the beet, grown for its white, fleshy chard and its greens, which resemble spinach.
A distinction is made between the leafy part of the plant and the actual chard, which refers to the broad middle stalks and the side ribs. Thus there are two kinds of cultivation, and different uses and cooking methods. The chard was once grown exclusively to be eaten at Christmas in the south of France, and constituted the highlight of the Christmas Eve meal. Only the ribs, having a flavor reminiscent of artichoke hearts, were eaten.
Low in calories, Swiss chard is an ideal vegetable for those watching their weight, as well as being a good source of potassium, calcium and fibre.
Cooking tips for chard
Raw, the stalks have a rather unpleasant earthy flavor, so we recommend the following preparation methods:
- Remove the thin fibrous membrane; boil them in a “blanc” ( water to which some flour and lemon juice have added) or salted water; peel and remove all green parts.
- Steam, boil, braise, sauté, etc.
- Prepare like asparagus or celery; goes well with cream, garlic and pearl onions.
- Add to a good vegetable soup.
- Italian-style – serve with pasta and sun-dried tomatoes, oil or cream and Parmesan shavings.
Gourmetpedia - Cooking tips for the greens
The small Swiss chard from Nice is highly regarded and is used in many recipes. Its green leaves resemble spinach.
In Nice the greens are used in first courses, gratins, omelettes, and even in dessert tarts with apples and pinenuts. They are also used in southern France in pies or as a filling for ravioli.
For an Italian touch, cut the greens in strips, sauté in olive oil with strips of ham and sun-dried tomatoes - use as a bed upon which to serve grilled fish.
Choose Swiss chard with bright green leaves, shiny and without marks or blemishes.
The chard should be white and crisp.
Keep in a cool, dark place.
Swiss chard is sensitive to pressure: keep it cool without packing together too tightly. It keeps better than spinach, but no longer than two days. Sprinkle with water if necessary.
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