Valley Bounty: Swiss Chard

The colorful leafy green we most commonly know as Swiss chard goes by a variety of aliases around the world and throughout history, including “silverbeet”, “crab beet”, “seakale beet”, and my clear favorite, “perpetual spinach”.  It is, in fact, neither spinach, nor kale, nor crab (though it is closely related to beets — they are cultivars of the same species); it is not even especially Swiss, being instead a classic feature of Mediterranean diets. One traditional preparation involves braising chard with anchovies, raisins, capers, pine nuts, and lemon.

Milder in flavor than kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and dandelion, chard still packs a considerable nutritional punch compared with its more bitter peers; I like to use it in place of lettuce wraps, to sneak in a few extra vitamins and minerals while maintaining a fairly neutral flavor. Chard’s strong backbone (or stem, as it were) combined with its wide, flat shape make it one of the few greens well suited to grilling (though keep an eye on it as it chars easily) — lightly bitter and slightly blackened, grilled chard makes a great companion for fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)