I was surprised when Caroline told me she had never tried rainbow chard before. She loves vegetables but swiss chard is not so common in the Netherlands. And I’m not sure why because it’s delicious and another easy dark green vegetable you can throw into your weekly dinner rotation. If you find good quality rainbow chard, try this recipe with a tasty pickled chard stem garnish that ensures nothing goes to waste.
My Nutrition Philosophy
As a Chef, my life revolves around food in a way I could not imagine not enjoying what I eat. I add some brown butter and sugar in this dish which is not as healthy as eating plain-steamed rainbow chard but this how I enjoy eating more vegetables. My philosophy is that if it persuades me to eat more vegetables, then it’s probably a good thing.
The reality is that a giant plate of this sautéed rainbow chard will be gobbled up happily without question and the kids might even love this too. A little extra sugar and butter might actually convince you to eat more vegetables. Let’s face it, life’s too short to not enjoy what you eat.
Rainbow Chard is a Nutritional Powerhouse
It’s not just nice to look at, rainbow chard is also loaded with nutrition. Chard is packed full of vitamin K, A, and C, an a great source of magnesium, potassium, iron. Like most dark leafy greens, it’s high in antioxidants including polyphenols, vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoid plant pigments, such as beta-carotene which can help prevent cancer and lung disease.
How To Prepare Rainbow Chard
Chard can be eaten raw but it can be a touch too bitter this way. If you find young swiss chard in the spring it’s great in a salad with a simple lemon vinaigrette or even a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
My favourite way to enjoy rainbow chard is just barely cooked with a few delicious accompaniments including my secret weapon – brown butter.
Don’t Throw Away the Stems
You can save the chard stems by pickling them. In this recipe I use a quick pickle recipe – meaning I pour over the pickling liquid hot instead of cold. The hot liquid will pickle the stems much faster whereas as cold pickle would take at least a couple of days. You don’t have to add the pickled stems to the dish but I think it’s nice to have an option to minimize food waste whenever possible. Plus you can save this for up to a month in the fridge and add the pickled stems to fried rice, salads, or eat them with a nice spread of thinly sliced cured meat.
If you decide to not make the chard pickle, use a splash of white wine in replace chard pickling liquid when cooking.
Tips For Cooking Rainbow Chard
- Chard cooks very quickly as the leaves are very soft so it doesn’t need too much cooking.
- Always cook green vegetables on high heat to preserve the green colour. In this recipe we steam them very quickly to prevent them from turning grey.
- The pickled chard stem will eventually all become the same colour if not separated. I don’t mind them all being the same colour, but if you wish to keep some yellow, some white and some red then it’s best to separate them in different jars while pickling.
Salad Spinner – This is a great tool for quickly drying vegetable leaves and ensuring that the end result will not be watered down.
- Large pot with a lid
- salad spinner
- 1 bunch rainbow chard 1 large or two small bunches
- 50 g almonds whole, skin on
- 30 g butter
- 30 g golden raisins
- ¼ tsp aleppo chili
- ¼ tsp salt or as much as you like
- maldon sea salt optional
For the Pickled Chard Stem
- 150 ml red wine vinegar
- 50 ml water
- 3 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 pc star anise
- First remove the stem from the leaves using a small knife. Separate the the stem and leaves.
- Cut the leaves by folding them and slicing into big pieces. (Chiffonade)
- Cut the stems into thin slices.
- Heat all the ingredients for the chard pickle in a small pot and bring to a boil.
- Pour the hot pickling liquid over the chard stems. Let cool completely and then refrigerate.
- Wash the chard leaves in cold water. You may have to wash the leaves multiple times to get all the dirt out. Dry in a salad spinner.
- Have all of the ingredients ready to go before you start because you must do this quickly.Over medium-low heat, brown the butter until it starts to brown slightly and smells nutty. Immediately add the raisins, almonds and chili and cook on low until the raisin are plump and the almonds brown slightly. Deglaze the pan with about 2 tbsps of the chard stem pickling liquid. Add the swiss chard, season with a little salt and close the lid.Increase the heat to high and cook for 1-2 minutes with the lid on.
- Remove the lid from the pan and cook for another 1-2 minutes to reduce the liquid in the pan and concentrate the flavour.
- Drain the swiss chard on paper towels. Serve on a big sharing plate garnished with the pickled chard stem and a little maldon sea salt. Enjoy!
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