Welcome to our first Seasonal Recipe Round-Up! This time we're featuring chard (and next time is spinach — see schedule below). I'm sharing my tips and a favorite recipe, and you can participate by sharing your own tips and/or recipes in the comments.
What is Chard?
Chard is a dark leafy green (like spinach, kale, beet greens, collard greens, mustard greens). You have probably heard of swiss chard or rainbow chard, and there are others. Rainbow chard is a variety of chard all growing together — and it is beautiful!
Chard is a spring green, though it can grow through the winter in mild climates, especially under a cold-frame roof. Our friends with whom we gardened last year have a few chard plants that grow perpetually under the cold frame so we ate it all spring, summer, fall, and winter.
The Good and the Bad
Chard, and the other dark leafy greens, contain abundant vitamins, minerals but also an anti-nutrient called oxalic acid. Oxalic acid binds with minerals in the digestive tract just as phytic acid does. To reduce oxalic acid, you should steam or ferment dark leafy greens. To ferment greens, see my online class in lacto-fermentation or my book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods.
How to Steam Chard
Steam for just long enough to wilt the greens (about five minutes), but keep them brightly colored — this reduces oxalic acid yet preserves other nutrition. You can use a steamer basket, or you can put the chard right in a few inches of simmering water in a pot.
Once steamed, drain the chard and discard the cooking water because it contains oxalic acid plus other impurities (like pesticides or nitrites if the produce was conventional). Then toss with additional ingredients or add to soups or dishes. For an example of this technique, see my Feta and Chard recipe.
You might run into recipes that call for an addition of greens to be cooked right along with everything else. This keeps the oxalic acid in the dish. Instead, steam the greens separately and add them to the dish after draining.
What About Green Smoothies?
It is best to add raw greens like chard sparingly, rather than regularly. As an alternative, consider steaming the chard, then adding it to the smoothie after it is cooled. If you have an abundance of chard, steam it then freeze or dehydrate it to add to smoothies over time.
How to Store and Use Chard
Store unwashed leaves in plastic bags in your refrigerator (preferably a crisper drawer) for 2 to 3 days, or up to a week. To use, wash and dry leaves. Trim off ends and any bad spots. Then use in recipes.
My Recipe: Feta and Chard
Now, it is your turn to share!
How to Participate in the Seasonal Recipe Round-Up
Bloggers and non-bloggers, feel free to add a comment here with your favorite recipes or posts.
Please use real, whole ingredients in recipes, and preferably traditional methods of preparation. Whole ingredients means whole grains, vegetables, legumes, meats, and unrefined sweeteners. In order to keep the integrity of “nourishing” food, I will delete any recipes that use processed, boxed foods. Where possible, incorporate traditional methods of preparation, like soaking, sprouting and fermenting. The idea here is that your recipes and tips should help our readers find traditional methods for preparing seasonal vegetables.
Share Your Chard Recipes and Tips!
Seasonal Recipe Round-Up Schedule: April through June
- Friday, April 27, 2012 — Chard
- Friday, May 11, 2012 — Spinach
- Friday, May 25, 2012 — Rhubarb
- Friday, June 8, 2012 — Asparagus
- Friday, June 22, 2012 — Strawberries
All seasonal recipe round-ups are (and will be) listed on the Recipes page.
Come back on Friday, May 11 for our spinach link-up in the Seasonal Recipe Round-Up.
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