Swiss Chard: with stems or without?

linnea56June 23, 2013

I have been collecting recipes for this. I want to use it tonight, in a stir fry with onions and garlic, but realized that all the recipes I had called for cutting the stems off.

Is there a special reason for this? Are the stems bitter or tough? If all they need is longer cooking, I'll add them first. Thanks!

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annie1992

Linnea, the stems are not bitter nor tough (if they aren't huge), but they do require longer cooking time. I often start the stems first, then add the leaves so they are done at the same time. In the alternative, there are recipes that call for just the stems.

Annie

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 5:47PM
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ruthanna_gw

I use both but like Annie, I usually start the stems first. Sometimes, I cut the stems crosswise into about 3/4 inch pieces and cook them for a few minutes in a little bit of water in the microwave, drain the steamed stems and cook the leaves and stems together.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 6:10PM
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KatieC

I do the same as Annie...we like them braised with garlic, leaves tossed in last.

I tried pickling some small Bright Lights chard stems last year.The variety of colors looked really cool. For about a month. Then the colors blended and they became an insipid pinkish-tan. It may be worth trying some refrigerator pickles, though. They were pretty for awhile....

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 6:15PM
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linnea56

Thanks! The stems were just fine...I didn't find them tough at all. We started them first, as suggested. My husband asked if it was supposed to be bitter, though. I thought it was just slightly so, but wondered if recipes normally address this.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 7:39PM
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mtnester

Swiss chard has become one of our favorite greens; I've never found it bitter. I usually start with a sweet onion, chopped, and saute it in a large pan; after a couple minutes, I add the chard stems (sliced crosswise, as noted above) and sometimes minced garlic. A few minutes later, I add the leaves (cut into 1-inch strips). When it's ready to serve, I add a few shakes of balsamic vinegar. The sweet onion-vinegar combination gives it a sweet-and-sour effect.

Oh, and one of our favorite variations on the theme: if you happen to have some leftover acorn or butternut squash, add some squash cubes to the mixture (cook just long enough to reheat). Colorful and delicious!

Sue

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 11:22PM
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Islay_Corbel

I made this last week. Cook your chard, stalks and leaves. Boil some new potatoes and slice. Make a paste with garlic, sun dried tomatoes, anchovies, olive oil, olives.
Layer chard, potatoes, paste. Repeat. Cover with grated cheese and bake until golden.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 2:41AM
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sally2_gw

If you pick your chard late in the season, and it's starting to bolt, it could make it more bitter.

With any of the leafy greens, you can do as mtnester suggested, and add some vinegar, just a sprinkle. Any flavor of vinegar will work, depending on your preference. Balsamic, as she suggested, or cider, or pepper vinegar are all good, each giving it's own flavor to the greens. It's surprising that adding an acid makes greens less bitter, but it does.

Sally

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:24AM
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sleevendog

Chard has tender stems as mentioned above, as does beet greens. It is only about 6inches tall in my garden now but i sneak some of the baby leaves with stems for my salad mix.
Good raw if small like baby spinach.

Our 'go to' method for any greens is to first make garlic chips. Slow roasted slices in cold evoo, bringing up the heat till pale brown and crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and rest on paper towel. A half onion, sliced, in the garlic oil till transparent, add stems sliced, few minutes, add a half cup h2o, then wilt the chopped leaves on top and cover to steam.
Plate and top with a big squeeze fresh lemon, splash light balsamic, top with garlic chips.
If it is very fresh it is rarely at all bitter.

Collards and kale the same but not the tough stems. We slice very thin to break the cell walls and makes a tender green with less cooking time. (southern collards are often boiled to death with lots of fat and ham hock) i like a more fresh taste.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:32AM
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mrsjack_gw

We had baby swiss chard, fresh asparagus, and chopped onion salad for Sunday dinner. For the salad dressing I used cream, sugar and apple cider vinegar. Delicious!

Gloria

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:26AM
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pkramer60

I am harvesting the chard now. I just wash it, chop it all up and sauté like spinach with garlic and some red pepper flakes. when the leaves have wilted, the stems still have some crunch to them. And the raw copped freezes well too.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 2:44PM
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Islay_Corbel

Also what I like is cooked chard, crumble in some feta and wrap in brick or filo. Bake til crispy.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 2:33AM
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OklaMoni

my mom made two meals out of swiss chard. White sauce with the stems, and the greens were cooked like spinach.

Moni

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 4:29PM
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pkramer60

Islay: wrap in brick???

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 4:54PM
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artsyshell

pkramer, Brik is a type of pastry, similar to filo.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 6:07PM
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ruthanna_gw

Stevendog, those garlic chips sound great. I will be trying them soon.
Gloria, your cream dressing is what we use on dandelion greens in early spring. I love the taste of it.

Sometimes I make stuffed chard leaves by wilting in the microwave, lining custard cups with them, adding filling, folding the leaf over the top, and steaming in a hot water bath. I've also made recipes for stuffed grape leaves using large Swiss chard leaves.

Filling in this batch was rice, red and golden beets. Sauce was orange juice hollandaise.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 6:44PM
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sally2_gw

That looks great, Ruthanna.

Sally

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 9:46AM
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