Difficulty level: Easy
Swiss chard comes in the form of large leaves with colorful, often substantial stems. Many recipes call for the stems to be discarded, but they are delicious and nutritious in their own right. The trick is to cook the stems separately from the leaves: consider them two different vegetables. Here’s what you need to know.
Preparing Chard: The Separation
- Wash chard thoroughly and pat dry.
- Trip off a half inch or so at the bottom of the stem as well as any brown spots on the stems or leaves.
- Use a paring knife to cut each leaf away from the thickest part of the stem.*
- Make separate piles of stems and leaves so that you can easily chop and cook them separately.
* Don’t try to remove every bit of stem; just the thickest part. About halfway up into the leaf is generally sufficient. Likewise, don’t worry if there’s a bit of leaf attached to the stem.
Cooking with Chard
As a general rule, you can cook the stems like onions or celery, and you can cook the leaves like spinach.
If you’re making something like a stew, chop the stems and cook them along with the onions, then add the leaves at the appropriate point in the recipe.
Or you can use just the leaves in one recipe, and save the stems to sauté or roast on their own. They’re wonderful as part of a roasted veggie mix, stirred into rice, or turned into a gratin.