Sometimes called silverbeet, chard is a hardy perennial related to beetroot. It is native to the Mediterranean but grows wild around the coast of Britain and the Canary Islands too.
IN THE KITCHEN
Although chard has an earthier taste than spinach, it can be used in similar ways. The leaves can be served raw in a winter salad, or blanched and dressed with olive oil, lemon and salt. Pulses, legumes and potatoes are a good match so try chard in soups, casseroles and curries, or use it in warm meze-style salads with chickpeas and tomatoes.
The leaves can be stuffed with rice pilaf and rolled like dolmades, or used in spanokopitta style pies. In Nice, chard is traditionally used in the sweet tourte de blettes with raisins, apples, pine nuts, lemon and cheese. The stems can be steamed or stir-fried, or simmered in stock and served like asparagus.
Swiss chard has a white stem and dark green, slightly crinkled leaves. Rainbow chard has alternating red, purple, yellow and white stalks with green leaves. Red chard has red stalks and a reddish line to the leaves, however when cooked it turns dark green. Perhaps more importantly, chard comes in different sizes: tender baby leaves and mature large leaves with thick stalks.