Red, Swiss, Rainbow
"The Queen of Summer" - Swiss Chard is a female plant, referred to in France as bieta, and costa in Italian. Swiss Chard did not originate in Switzerland, but in the Mediterranean. Chard is the same species as beets, very low in calories, a good source of fiber, an excellent source of beta carotene and is very high in potassium. Although chard contains high levels of calcium and iron, like spinach, absorption of these minerals is limited due to the presence of oxalic acid. Sounds like the nutritional value of chard is quite similar to beets!
Swiss (green and white variety), Red and Rainbow Chards have a mild flavor, and the leaves and stems are quite delicious. Use the various chards as you would spinach - steam (but do not over steam), sauté in olive oil and finish with fresh lemon juice, add to omelettes, quiche and pasta dishes. The small, young leaves can be tossed into fresh vegetable salads. The stems, cut into 1" pieces can be served with oil and fresh herbs, or braised with wine - garnish with pignolias, parmesan cheese, or add a fine pasta sauce to complete your vegetable dish. The leaves of all varieties of mature chards are excellent as a wrap for vegetable dishes that include rice and cheese. Simply blanche leaves for one minute in boiling water, rinse to pull out the heat under cold water (you want to stop the cooking process). Fill with your favorite food combinations, wrap and enjoy with a marinara dipping sauce, or fill the leaves, wrap and bake topped with a tomato sauce and a mild cheese like Monterey Jack or a mild Cheddar.
Chard can be added to many dishes, and is excellent when incorporated into soups, stir fries, purees, etc. The many varieties of chards retain their color when heat is applied, so use your imagination by using this vibrant vegetable as a centerpiece for your special meal!