It’s pretty universal that produce in most vital health food markets greets one with almost overwhelming amounts of voraciously healthy chard with its brilliant contrasting stems bound in pert, wire-wrapped bundles. Sometimes it and the different varieties of kale can overwhelm us a bit. But it needn’t.
If you are a spinach fan, chances are you will like chard for its earthy, yet bittersweet subtleness. It has many names: Swiss chard, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet, seakale beet, and mangold. Regardless of name, it is handsome when its vibrant, large green leaves are accented by brilliant stems of red, white or orange.
Chard did not originate in Switzerland but is of Greco-Roman origin, and Aristotle wrote about it in the fourth century BCE. As with so much early vegetation, it was first prized for its medicinal properties. Earlier, it was confused with another Mediterranean plant, the cardoon, also celery-like with stalks. Cooks in Sicily first used the stalks of chard and fed the leaves to animals. Gradually, they ate the whole plant.
Like all greens, chard is prized for being a huge source of calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. It is, however, high in sodium.
All parts of the chard plant contain oxalic acid, therefore it is advisable to discard liquid after boiling chard.
Choose chard from a vendor who chills it and look for healthy, vibrant leaves free of bruises. Do not wash leaves before storing. They will keep fresh and crisp for about three days.
Find good recipes for chard here at Marquita.com.