I learned to love sauteed rainbow chard even more while working in Paris.
There it was called blette de couleur, and the bunches we received from Terroir D’Avenir are still to this day some of the best quality I’ve ever tasted.
The chard always seemed to roll around in the spring when the leaves were extra tender and sweet. The fresh bundles of beautiful rainbow chard leaves were so attractive, they could have easily replaced the flowers in the dining room.
Unfortunately, you don’t find chard varieties too frequently in the larger grocery stores which is really quite a shame because chard is not only very tasty, it’s also very healthy.
The way we served the rainbow chard at Frenchie Bar à Vin (quickly sautéed in a light 2-day lobster sauce served alongside a few pieces of immaculate fried potato gnocchi) might be a little too chic for home cookery, while this recipe is a lot easier to prepare at home.
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, and is 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 Sauteed Rainbow Chard
Chard can be eaten raw but it can be a touch too bitter this way.
If you find young 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 actually 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.
It’s easy and gets the job done quickly without having to wait weeks.
The hot liquid will pickle the stems much faster whereas a 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 to replace the chard pickling liquid while cooking.
Tips For Making Sauteed 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 stems will eventually 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.
*Chef tip: If the chard is quite old, it’s better to cook it briefly in salted boiling water instead of steaming it in the pan. This is because the chard leaves get more bitter as they get older and boiling removes some of the bitterness.
Salad Spinner – This is a great tool for quickly drying vegetable leaves and ensuring that the end result will not be watered down.
What Does Sauteed Rainbow Chard Go With?
Rainbow chard cooks just like swiss chard and works well with these ingredients:
- Garlic and onions.
- Nuts like hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and almonds
- Sweet things like honey, sugar, orange juice, dried fruit and agave syrup balance out the bitterness from the leaves.
- Dairy such as butter, brown butter, cream, bechemel sauce.
- Practically ANY cheese – Parmesan, Gruyère, Fontina, Gouda and Chedder cheese.
What’s the Difference Between Swiss Chard and Rainbow Chard?
It’s all in the colour of the stems and leaves.
Swiss chard has lighter coloured stems with light green leaves and rainbow chard is usually a mix of red, yellow and white stems.
Nutrition-wise, they’re pretty much the same and they’ll also cook exactly the same.
Sauteed Rainbow Chard FAQ
Absolutely! Although they’re better separated from the leaves before cooking as the stems take longer to cook. They taste delicious when pickled, like in this recipe.
No, you can eat it raw, but older chard will be more bitter and less desirable when raw. Young spring chard is ideal for in a salad and older varieties are better cooked.
Blanching the chard leaves instead of steaming may help to remove some of the bitterness. Also, going big on sweet additions like dried fruit and adding a good amount of acidic ingredients will help to counteract the bitter flavour.
Sauteed Rainbow Chard with Brown Butter Raisins, Almonds + Chili
- 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!