With a little spark of orange, and a tang of goat cheese, this humble green will please a crowd.
Swiss Chard has long been a cold-hardy queen of the garden in the northeast. From spring through to the first snows (and sometimes beyond), this green is a reliable cut-and-come again staple in the garden, and on our the New England table.
One year, I vowed to keep my chard growing in the garden as long as possible. I made a lovely little protected tunnel for it, and it survived the first two snowfalls. However, after a particular windy night, I went out the next morning to inspect and the tunnel had blown open. The deer in the area must have assumed the invitation, and nibbled it all down to the ground. Every last leaf. I think I cried.
The versatile green
My mother loved every type of green, and chard was her favorite. She cooked it plain, she cooked it with bacon or salt pork, with lots of other vegetables, and she ate it raw in salads. Sometimes she cooked it to death, but we all still loved it. Chard is a green that you can cook for a long time and it will retain a lot of flavor, and will flavor intensely the broth of any soup or stew. However, the longer you cook it, the more it loses color, and vitamins, which is why I like to cook it as quickly as possible to soften.
One of the most nutritious greens
We are supposed to eat the rainbow of vegetables, and with rainbow Swiss chard, you are way ahead of the game!
It is a nutritional powerhouse filled with phytonutrients, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. A cup of steamed Swiss chard has only about 20 calories, but over half your day’s supply of Vitamin A, lots of Vitamin C, folate, niacin, thiamin, Vitamins B-6 and K, potassium, calcium, iron, copper, sodium, manganese, and phosphorus. Among other health benefits, chard has been linked to prevention of osteoporosis, anemia, some cancers, and Alzheimer’s. That’s a lot of work for a few leaves!
I love the flavors in this salad/side dish. There’s a little sweet, some sour, a bit of crunch, and the orange and chard just taste lovely together. If you are a beet lover, a couple of diced up beets can easily replace the carrot in this dish.
I used a smoked red pepper jam goat cheese and it was just right. You could use any herbed goat cheese, plain, or even some soft feta.
Rainbow Chard with Goat Cheese and Orange
1 large bunch of rainbow chard
2 small carrots, multi colored
½ small red pepper
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
2/3 cup orange juice
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
4 oz. goat cheese
Prep the vegetables:
Wash the chard and peel the carrots.
Slice the thickest part of the stems off the chard. Make a pile of stems and one of the leaves.
With a vegetable peeler, make a few curls of different color carrot for a final garnish. Slice the remainder of the carrots into long sticks and place with the chard stems.
Dice the red pepper coarsely.
Heat a large skillet over medium high and melt the butter into the oil. Add the chard stems, carrot sticks, and red pepper. Sauté for a few minutes, then reduce the heat to medium low. Add the orange juice and peel. Cover and cook until the stems have softened.
Give the chard leaves another quick rinse in water, shake, and add to the pan. If you like, place the carrot curls on top to soften a little. Cover.
After two minutes check. You want the leaves to be just wilted. Remove them from the pan as they soften. This doesn’t take long.
Place the chard stems and carrots on one side of the plate and add the leaves to the other. That way, people can easily choose what they like. Sprinkle with the vinegar and pumpkin seeds, and add the goat cheese however you like it –– sliced, crumbled. The cheese will softly melt a little into the warm chard.
Make sure to get all the sauce and small pieces of vegetables from the pan onto the salad! It is like a little sauce.
Garnish with flaked sea salt, pepper, and the reserved carrot curls.
Or just mix everything together and eat!
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