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Last night's Swiss chard......nobody liked it! Any improvement ideas?

I was able to grab a great bunch of red chard from Wegman's yesterday. It was like $2.39 for a good sized bunch. I forgot to factor in the time to clean it. Calphalon brazier, added 3oz. diced slab bacon. Filled sink with cold water. Cut bottom 1/2 inch of the stem. Cut into 3' sections, soaked and drained well. Added 1TBS virgin olive oil and small yellow onion, diced. After about 8 mins, onion browning, and bacon crisp. Added the chard in two batches about 3 mins apart. Took almost 30 mins on low flame. S&P and a touch garlic powder. Looked great. I thought it was just "ok". The other two said "woodsy flavor" and "earthy". It didn't seem worth the effort for such neutral flavor. Any ideas? Thanks.

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  1. 30 min is a heck of a long time, I've only ever sauteed it for a few minutes, probably 5-8 maximum. I prefer it just wilted so it still has a fresh taste, but usually cook it just a bit longer to satisfy a picky eater. If you like the stems with some crunch, put it all in together, otherwise cook the stems for a couple minutes first before adding the leaves.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mlou72

      I agree, doesn't take as long too cook, 30 minutes would be too long IMO.

    2. This recipe is dynamite.

      (OTOH, if someone said "earthy," they may simply not care for the taste off chard. Beet haters usually don't like it, no matter how you prepare it.)

      1. A little sweet and sour helps - balsamic vinegar, or apple cider plus cider vinegar.

        1 Reply
        1. re: greygarious

          I generally make a balsamic reduction as dressing for sauteed chard, which I chiffonade and cook for under half an hour -- though, as do others from the sounds of it, I cook the stems longer than the leaves (or I save the stems for another use the next day in a different dish).

        2. I think cooking that long was fine. The thing is red chard will always have that earthy, beety flavor. Try white chard next time and it will be more mild.

          1. I discard the stem/rib. It gives the chard a completely different flavor, so you can see which way you prefer, but I agree with the first poster 30 minutes is too long.

            1. Instead of just slab bacon, I would use bacon grease or duck fat to sautee the chard.

              1. rinse well and leave the leaves kind of wet if you will, cut off the ends, they take forever to cook vs. the leaf, I just use butter, salt and pepper, put them in hot pan with melted butter, cover... cook for 4 minutes, stir... cook another 2 minutes, add salt and pepper, done!

                1. As greygarious suggested, a little acid will do wonders. However, I wouldn't worry about the sweet. I find that chard has an innate sweetness and if you've already got sauteed onion, there's plenty of sweet to balance out the acid. A southern way to serve it would be with a bottle of sport peppers on the table. That way, you get acid and heat.

                  pikawicca's suggestion of making a chard gratin is also a great preparation. I prefer the Alice Waters way from The Art of Simple Food. There's no cheese involved, which is just my personal preference. Using fresh breadcrumbs is key.


                  1. I slice up some bacon and onions, get going in olive oil. Rinse and chop the chard, stem ends go in with the onions, add some garlic at this point. Give it a few minutes, add the chard, toss, add in some chicken broth, and a can of white drained beans, simmer a few minutes and you are ready to eat. Sometimes I will add in white raisins or a bit of chopped tomato.

                    1. The ribs are always going to take longer than the greens, so you need to cut them out and put them in a good 10 minutes before the rest. That's probably the part that tasted woody to your guests. 30 minutes does seem like an awful long time, depending on how hot your pan might have been.

                      1. Different bunches of chard also taste different. I love chard, usually, but our last bunch tasted very earthy and unpleasant, even though it was prepped and cooked per usual. Not sure how to tell the milder from the earthier, though.

                        I also like mine with shallots, and sometimes different vinegars (red wine, cider, balsamic, etc.).

                        1. I notice that there are a lot of greens that recipes call for typical ingredients common to just about everything, which are: butter or bacon or olive oil; onion, shallots, garlic or leeks; varied usual vinegars or balsamic.

                          Greens do have a distinct taste, but with one or other of these three mixtures of ingredients added, it could go on ad infinitum.

                          Surprisingly, like you, I bought a batch of fresh organic chard yesterday, prepared today. I think preparation of chard (or any other like-green) can also depend on the rest of the menu.

                          Today I simply boiled it a very short time, salted it at the table with a special salt. The flavor-taste of the chard was right out there. It needed nothing more than salt to enhance the flavor.

                          Just a thought.

                          1. The thing that I love about chard is that it's quick and easy. Besides going way, way overboard with the cooking time (30 minutes would be good for collard greens though), I think you just worked too hard.
                            Hopefully you have a salad spinner for washing. That makes the job much easier.
                            I cut it into fat ribbons and quick saute like I would for spinach, with olive oil, a little garlic, s&p and then maybe a drizzle of something to finish. Takes about 5 minutes. I cut the stems into smaller bits so they cook closer to the same rate as the leaves.
                            You could try it as something other than a stand alone dish--I love chard in fritatta, with fried potatoes, in a tortilla either as a taco filling or in a quesadilla...
                            It also makes a great cold salad--julienne fairly fine and then quick saute as above. Chill and mix with whatever ingredients and dressing flavor suits you. Almost like a slaw that way.

                            1. I think chard benefits immensely from blanching. Whenever I skip that step and just saute it I am disappointed. I separate the stem from the leaves, chop, and give them a 2 minute head start in boiling water, then add the chopped greens for another two minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, squeeze out the water with your hands and then saute a couple of minutes with whatever else you are adding. And acid is a must with any greens, in my opinion.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: GretchenS

                                You can also microwave it -- just put it in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with microwaveable plastic wrap. I think blanching is slightly better, but microwaving it does save some time.

                                I would ditch the garlic salt; thin-slice some fresh garlic, and either "bless" some olive oil with it and take it out, or just leave it in with the chard. You could then add some lemon / salt & pepper, and maybe some breadcrumbs or finely grated hard cheese if you like.

                              2. When I was little, my parents always grew a ton of chard in their enormous garden. I hated the stuff, but they always served it like this: boil until tender, and dress with melted butter, minced garlic, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper.

                                Then my dad would drink the leftover boiling water. Sometimes he would even freeze it to save for later. He called it "Swiss chard juice." Horrified me at the time and the thought still kind of grosses me out, to be honest. Although I bet it would be excellent as a component in a veggie stock.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                  I wonder if he liked sauerkraut juice. It used to be (70 years ago?) so popular that you could buy little cans of simply sauerkraut juice.

                                  1. re: Rella

                                    I don't think I've ever seen him drink any, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't like it if he tried it. I think drinking the Swiss chard juice started as an attempt to get all the nutrients that leeched out during the boiling and turned into a genuine love for the stuff.

                                    1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                      I've also heard of persons who are lacking in a certain mineral will gravitate to the produce that would provide it for them.

                                      So, even if that be the case, it is great that he lliked it so well.

                                      We would probably gross people out, too. Many times I will serve a cooked green in a small bowl, which when it is drained, will show a tablespoon or so of water/juice/liquid from the greens. We just tip it up into our mouths - um-um-good!

                                2. I love beets and I love all types of greens, but do not care for Swiss chard at all. Perhaps they truly just do not care for it. Did you like it?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                    Butting in here to your post - Swiss Chard is my least favorite green, too. It is supposed to be related to beet greens, but I LOVE beet greens.

                                    On the other hand, husband ADORES chard.
                                    I wonder what there is about the Swiss chard taste that is so differently different :-))

                                    1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                      I do like swiss chard and beet greens, but you do occasionally get that unpleasant texture on the teeth that sometimes happens with spinach (but not with tougher greens like kale or collards). So it's possible that the texture, rather than the taste, is what puts some people off of them.

                                      1. re: will47

                                        I agree with that.

                                        However, the slippery-slidery feel of chard and beet grens are very similar.
                                        Don't ask me to do a taste test :-))

                                    2. i add the bottom part(rib part) first to the heated olive oil infused with chopped garlic.
                                      then a few min later, i add the leafy part...something i learned from watching Food network.
                                      30 for vege??? that sounds too long for vege....