Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Chard: Taste the Rainbow
Ok, so chard doesn't exactly taste like a rainbow - it tastes more like, well, chard. But it's so good! Although slightly bitter and a bit salty in it's raw form, chard takes on a different flavor profile when cooked - more of a delicate mild flavor than it's somewhat bitter raw counterpart. If you compare chard leaves to beet leaves you will notice that they are very similar in appearance - and that's because they are part of the same species. So, if chard is eaten should beet greens be eaten as well? Absolutely! Beet greens are just as valuable. The different varieties (or "cultivars") of chard (or Swiss chard) range in the most magnificent colors - from red to yellow, green to purple. The colors are incredible! I can't help but marvel at these colors when we harvest these veggies, they just seem so unreal.
Chard leaves are commonly harvested in two different stages: in it's shorter "baby" form, or in it's mature form, where the leaves are longer and stems tougher. Chard that is harvested young is especially wonderful in salads because the flavor is not quite as bitter. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked, which mellow out the bitterness. There are a ton of different ways to eat it - don't get stuck thinking it is just a component to your salad (although we love eating it that way!). If you juice, chard is an amazing and extremely healthy addition to your green smoothie. You can steam it, roast it, grill it, braise it, and saute it. We use it in just about every stir fry dish we make. Chard and garlic are like BFF - the two go hand in hand. There is a wealth of recipes that include chard on the web - it's such a versatile vegetable, and should be treated as such.
One of my favorite things about this fantastic leafy vegetable is the nutritional aspect of it - it is ridiculously good for you! Chard is is high in vitamins A, K (bone health) and C with one cup containing 214%, 716%, and 53% of the recommended daily value (raw). It is also rich in minerals, dietary fiber and protein. It also has high levels of magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, zinc, copper, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, and vitamin E. Amazing right? One of natures true superfoods! If you are digging all this health info, I found this article that talks extensively about all the health benefits of chard. As mentioned above, if you juice, adding chard to your juice or smoothie is a very easy way to get what your body needs. Maybe broccoli who is dubbed 'the king of vegetables' needs to move on over and hand over the crown. Hooray for chard!