Eat + Drink: In Season: Swiss Chard
Photographs byGayle Brooker
Chefs and gardeners alike give these local greens high marks, and with good reason. For one, the late fall/early winter crop boasts a hardy build, standing up to temps on both ends of the dial and sporting that cut-and-come-back persistence. Plus, Swiss chard scores for good looks, outshining your run-of-the-mill lettuce with varieties like Pink Lipstick and Canary Yellow.
The key to making it shine on your table, too? Get it as fresh as can be—choose farmers market over supermarket, or better yet, pluck it from your own crop.
- Compared to other bitter leafy greens, chard is slightly sweeter and one of the most nutritious of the bunch.
- Young chard can be eaten raw.
- Swiss chard can be used in place of spinach in most recipes; just increase your cooking time.
- Prep more than you need. Like spinach, the leaves cook down considerably.
- Select chard with shiny green ribbed leaves and discard any greens with holes or browning.
- The stems are edible but best to discard the tougher bottom portion. When cooking stems, chop into bite-size pieces and give them a five- to six-minute head start in your skillet.
1-2 bundles fresh Swiss chard
8-10 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
1 lb. pasta such as Bertollini’s linguine, cooked al dente
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
4-6 farm-fresh eggs, poached
Thoroughly wash the chard leaves. Pull leaves from stems; discard stems. Stack leaves and chop into bite-size pieces.
(If chopped leaves still seem gritty, rinse in a colander to remove excess dirt.)
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until browned, about six minutes, and transfer to paper towels. Pour off bacon drippings. In the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped chard leaves, mounding in pan and stirring with tongs as leaves cook down. Pull the leaves from the bottom to the top and add more to pan as room allows. Cook until all leaves are wilted, about three minutes. Reduce heat and add the butter, stirring until melted. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional two minutes. Return bacon to pan and add the pasta, stirring to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top each serving with freshly grated cheese and a poached egg.