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Also known as:
Swiss Chard, Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach, Mangold
Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla is a leafy vegetable. Chard has shiny green ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow and red depending on the cultivar. Swiss chard, along with kale, mustard greens and collard greens, is one of several leafy green vegetables often referred to as "greens".
Chard belongs to the same family as beets and spinach and shares a similar taste profile: it has the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavor of spinach leaves. Both the leaves and stalk of chard are edible, although the stems vary in texture with the white ones being the most tender .Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sauteed; the bitter flavor fades with cooking. Although Swiss chard is available throughout the year, its season runs from June through August when it is at its best and in the greatest abundance.
Wash the leaves and the stalk well. Place them on a chopping board and chop into small pieces with a chopping knife. Chopped chard is usually used as a stir fry or in vegetable recipes.
Remove the leaves from the stalk and using a sharp knife, cut the leaves into long 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick shreds or slices.This is used to prepare coleslaw salads or as agarnish or to simply reduce the cooking time.
How to select
This refers to tearing the chard by hand into small uneven pieces. This reduces the cooking time and also helps to retain the leafy structure, usually used for preparation that require blanching or in salads.
Choose chard that is held in a chilled display as this will help to ensure that it has a crunchier texture and sweeter taste. Look for leaves that are vivid green in color and that do not display any browning or yellowing. The leaves should not be wilted nor should they have tiny holes. The stalks should look crisp and be unblemished. Culinary uses
· Wrap chard leaves around your favorite vegetable and grain salad and roll into a neat little package. Bake in a medium-heat oven and enjoy this nutrient-superstar alternative to stuffed cabbage.
· Toss penne pasta with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and cooked Swiss chard.
· Add zest to omelets and fritatas by adding some steamed Swiss chard.
· Use chard in place of or in addition to spinach when preparing vegetarian lasagna.
· Local recipes like a Malayali thoran uses it, and it would even be good in a Bengali charchari.
· Do not cook chard in an aluminum pot since the oxalates contained in the chard will react with the metal and cause the pot to discolor. Since the stalks are thicker in texture, they will take longer to cook than the leaves, so their cooking should be started a few minutes earlier.How to store
To store, place unwashed chard in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. It will keep fresh for several days. If you have large batches of chard, you can blanch the leaves and then freeze them.Health benefits
· Both the leaves and the roots of chard have been the subject of fascinating health studies. The combination of traditional nutrients, phytonutrients (particularly anthocyans), plus fiber in this food seems particularly effective in preventing digestive tract cancers
· Chard contains rich concentrations of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E, and dietary fiber.
· Swiss chard also emerges as a very good source of copper, calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, protein, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, folate, biotin, niacin and pantothenic acid.