As a woman in my child-bearing years, I try to be pretty alert to the nutrients I am taking in. Although I’m no nutritionist, from what I understand dark, leafy greens are some of the best foods for you to eat. Swiss chard ranks number two in the “world’s healthiest foods,” right next to spinach. Only a handful of fruits and vegetables contain folate, the all-important nutrient that prevents spina bifida in growing babies, and chard is one of those.
The risk for spina bifida is reduced by 75% if a woman takes in adequate amounts of folate or folic acid before she is pregnant. Even if I am not trying to get pregnant, I think it’s important to include folate in my diet just in case.
Some beautiful rainbow chard jumped into my cart at Earth Fare last week, and I found inspiration in (strangely) an episode of Chopped on the Food Network. The judges gave great accolade to one chef who used the stems of the Swiss chard in his basket as well as the leaves. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about … you need to watch an episode of Chopped. It’s wild.)
This chard recipe incorporates the stems, smoky and delicious bacon, and garlic. And you can’t go wrong with bacon and garlic, right? It’s necessary to boil the dish some to get out the bitterness of the chard and leave just the rich, tasty flavor.
I found one bunch of chard only made a side dish for two people. Like most greens, it cooks down quite a bit.
Sauteed Swiss Chard with Stems
2 strips bacon
1 bunch chard (Swiss, rainbow, or other variety)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
salt and pepper
“Butcher” the chard: cut off long lengths of stem. If stems are very thick, you may want to cut them lengthwise in half. Discard woody end and then slice into 1-inch lengths. Cut the leaves away from the remainder of the stems. [This YouTube video shows what I mean when I say cut it away from the stem.]
Cut bacon into small pieces (I use kitchen shears for this) and saute on medium-high until crispy. Remove bacon to a paper towel with a slotted spoon, leaving fat in pan.
Add the stem pieces and garlic cloves. Cook on medium heat about 8 minutes, until stems are soft. Add chard leaves and toss. Stir until wilted. Remove garlic cloves.
Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and let boil, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes. Taste to make sure chard is not too bitter.
Drain off any remaining chicken stock. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in bacon pieces and serve.