Apr 15, 2013

Chard

Scarlet Charlotte Chard
Grown from seed from reneesgarden.com
Click on photo to view larger.
Chard is, in fact, considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables available and a valuable addition to a healthy diet (like other green leafy vegetables). Chard has been around for centuries, but because of its similarity to beets it is difficult to determine the exact evolution of the different varieties of chard. While the leaves are always green, chard stalks vary in color. Chard is also known by its many common names such as Swiss chard, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet, bright lights, seakale beet, and mangold.

The red-ribbed forms (shown in the photograph) are very attractive in the garden, but as a rough general rule, the older green forms will tend to out-produce the colorful hybrids. Chard has a slightly bitter taste and is used in a variety of cultures around the world. Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sauteed; their bitterness fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavor which is more delicate than that of cooked spinach. Swiss chard is high in vitamins A, K and C, and it is also rich in minerals, dietary fiber and protein. The stalk retains more iron compounds than the leaves, hence their rosy color.

Swiss chard didn’t actually originate in Switzerland, but in Sicily. So if you grow chard in Hawai'i, I guess you could call it Hawaiian chard, then you could serve it squid lu'au style to get away with it.

Chard is almost always available at Kumu Farms here on Moloka'i, or try growing it yourself, as I did, in a vegetable garden or in large pots, it's very easy to grow, as most things are here in Hawaii.


Chard Recipes:
Chard with Ginger
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 large bunch chard, chopped into large pieces
1 1/2 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Tamari sauce or soy sauce
1/2 - 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
freshly cracked black pepper, or if you like it spicy, add 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce

Procedure:
Heat olive oil to a medium heat in a saute pan. add onion, and continue to saute stirring occasionally. When the onions have softened and browned slightly, add the chard, ginger and garlic. stir well, incorporating ingredients. just as the leaves wilt after turning a brighter green, turn off heat and sprinkle with Tamari sauce and red wine vinegar to taste, stir again and serve hot with pork tenderloin or stewed chicken thighs and brown rice! Makes 2 servings.

Lemon Chard Soup
Ingredients:
9 cups water
1 cup green lentils, picked through for stones
1 bunch chard, stemmed and chopped into 1" strips
10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a paste
salt
2 lemons, juice of
1/2 bunch cilantro, stemmed and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of diced Yukon Gold potatoes

Procedure:
Wash the strips of Chard; drain.
In a large saucepan put the lentils and about 9 cups of water, place on high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the chard. Cover and boil gently for 15 minutes. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a skillet, add onions. Cook on medium heat until translucent; add the garlic paste and cilantro and cook gently for 3 minutes; transfer to the saucepan and mix well with the softened chard and the lentils. Add the potatoes and continue cooking covered for another 45 minutes until the lentils and potatoes are tender. Slowly incorporate the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper; simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, serve at room temperature. Makes 4-6 servings.

Spicy Stir-Fried Chard
Ingredients:
1 pound chard, stems and leaves chopped separately
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic

Sauce Ingredients:
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon Black Bean Garlic sauce
1-2 teaspoons Chili Garlic Sauce, to your taste
1 tablespoon honey

Procedure:
Cut stems away from swiss chard leaves, folding over the leaf to cut some of the larger part of the stem (ribs) that run through the leaves. Cut stems/ribs into short pieces. Pile the leaves up in a stack and slice about 1 inch thick; then turn the cutting board and cut the slices the other way, repeating until the chard is all chopped. Wash in a salad spinner if needed and spin dry. Mince enough garlic to make 1 tablespoon. Mix together soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, Black Bean Garlic Sauce, Chili Garlic Sauce, and honey to make the sauce. Turn the heat under the wok (or large frying pan) to medium high, add the oil and heat until the oil is slightly shimmering. Add the chard stems and stir-fry about 2 minutes. Add the leaves and minced garlic and stir-fry for about 3 minutes more, turning leaves over several times until all the chard has wilted. Add the sauce and stir to combine it with the chard, then cook 2-3 minutes more, or until the chard is tender and all coated with sauce. Serve hot. Makes 2 servings.
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