Amy Katz from Veggies Save the Day joins me to talk about all things Swiss chard as part of our new monthly series where we put a spotlight on a different vegetable. Each episode we will share facts, seasonal information, and recipes. Listen to these two veggie lovers nerd on about the colorful, hardy swiss chard.
You can listen to this podcast episode below or listen on any of these podcast players - Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts. If you would prefer to read the text, you will find a transcript below.
Here is a transcript of the interview.
Veggie Spotlight Eric Swiss Chard
Eric: Hey everybody. Welcome today to the Eat Shop Waste Not podcast. We are starting up a special series, which I'm super excited about. We're calling it our "Veggie spotlight." We're gonna take the spotlight and we're gonna put it on all sorts of different vegetables. From asparagus to tomatoes to Swiss chard.
We're gonna cover all these great, wonderful vegetables. The best part is, I'm not doing this alone. I have a special guest with me for these episodes. I have Amy here. And Amy, welcome to our podcast and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Amy: Hey Eric. Thanks so much for having me. Yeah, I am a vegan food blogger and my website is veggie Save the Day, and I share easy vegan recipes inspired by a Mediterranean diet. And one of my favorite things to do is create recipes around seasonal vegetables, so I'm really excited about our conversation.
📜 Where Did Swiss Chard Originate?
Eric: All right, today we are gonna talk about Swiss Chard.
So you may be asking the question, did Swiss Chard originate in Switzerland? Nope. It's believed to actually be from Sicily, Italy. People believe that the name Swiss got attached to it because of a Swiss botanist. But it's one of those things where the details of its history are not clear.
Amy: I had no idea. I thought it was from Switzerland, so I learned something new today.
Eric: Yeah. I decided to look that up 'cause I was wondering like, where'd that name come?
Why is it called Swiss Chard? It didn't, you know, but yeah, it was just, something got attached to something here. You know, there's a lot of things like that, where they have sometimes weird tings. Like I found there was a steak cut that was called Newport, and I figured, oh, that must be named after, you know, Newport, Newport Beach in California?
Nope. It was actually named after cigarettes. So I'm like, oh, that's so, um, I guess again, you never know what these names come from sometimes.
🥁 Related to Beets
Eric: Alright. Um, so also another thing to know, is that chard is related to beats.
Amy: Oh, that makes sense because the leaves, the beats leaves do look similar. I didn't know that.
Eric: Yeah. It seems like it happens that particular type of beet grows a bigger root ball and produces smaller leaves. So you actually could use those, so you know when you go to the store and buy beet greens with your beets, you're getting, you're kind of getting beets and Swiss Chard anyway.
You can use those beet greens anyway you would use chard. They're usually cooked in the same fashion.
So, um, it's kind of a two for one if you want to go for that. I mean, definitely never throw out greens. I remember when, I used to work at Whole Foods and there'd be some customers who would ask me to cut the greens off and I'm like, no, they're included. You know, you're gonna get 'em with the beats be are being sold by the like bunch or something. Here. It's like, no, don't do that. You can use them.
Amy: Yeah, for sure. That's a good tip. Save the greens.
Eric: Save the greens and use 'em how you would with chard. They, they tend to be a little smaller, um, in size than, than Swiss Chard, but you could still totally use 'em any way you would use that.
🌱 When Is Chard in Season?
Eric: So chard can be found in stores year round. This one kind of grows well in warm and cool weather. So it's a pretty versatile one. Uh, many home gardeners like it because, it's gorgeous first off. Um, and can, it can withstand heat a lot better than other greens like spinach. And speaking of spinach, you can use chard as a spinach substitute in any recipe.
So they, they can kind of be used interchangeably. Um, if, if you want, you know, it adds something different, a little more color. Um, so when I had a garden in Michigan here, I would grow the spinach in the early part of the season and then it would bolt and go to seed and become bitter once, you know, the heat and humidity kicked in, but the chard would last a lot longer.
So it was good to kind of have both of those around. So it'd have something after the spinach was kaputz.
Amy: Yeah, it's a lot easier to grow than spinach for sure. I actually like to grow it in my hydroponic garden and the, the Swiss chard. I like to grow Rainbow chard, in particular, because it's so beautiful with the different color stems, but it grows so well and it's just incredibly easy to grow. Much easier than spinach.
Eric: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. spinach is a lot more picky. But sometimes it can be a winner. Like I had one time where I had planted some spinach in, in the fall season. It survived the winter. So, it was around the whole winter cuz we got enough snow that year where it was actually buried in snow for most of the year.
So it ended up kind of being insulated and then when the snow melted and it started growing again, oh my goodness. It was the greatest spinach ever because like, it, it survived, it, it had over wintered. And so what plants do is they'll produce more sugars as, as kind of like antifreeze.
So it was like super sweet, and it was very abundantly grown. So like that, that was my best, but that doesn't always happen for us. Uh, but I tend to live in areas of Michigan where that get less snow. So like, and, and still get cold temperatures. So then it like just. You know, negative 20, it's like, no, I'm done.
Eric: But I've had some, you know, that one year was like, oh, that was the greatest spinach. I made a lot of spinach pesto that year because I just like had so much of it. And then, like you said too, like, Swiss Chard it's beautiful. Like it comes in, you know, you can get it in red or white or yellow or orange or green, you know, all the different stem colors and the leaves. Sometimes you can find, you know, most time they're green, but you can find some that are a little more like purplish hue or a little more bronzish color. Um, so like some people, you know, will recommend just growing it as an ornamental plant, to have it like a pretty part of your garden.
Um, hopefully you'll eat some of it too, of course, but it, beautiful. And then also, sometimes you can find chard as part of spring mixes. So people will occasionally grow them just as small leaves, more like, you know, baby size, like baby kale or baby spinach.
And you could do baby chard too. I've, done that for salads. Um, so it really adds a nice colorful mix to like a spring mix. Um, it's not, I don't see it necessarily too often here, but you'll see occasionally, you'll see some, you know, um, and whatever brand you're buying, you may see that they, they include, um, Swiss Chard in it, um, which I think is really fun.
Amy: Yeah, I like that too. I think baby Swiss Chard is really good raw in salads. It's a great alternative to spinach and kale. And so if you do grow some in your garden and you can harvest it a little bit early and enjoy it raw like that.
Eric: Yeah. One of my strategies was to plant a lot of it here and then cut off the smaller leaves and eventually leave other ones to grow bigger. And then they would, increase my space. Like last time I had a garden, I grew Swiss chard right in front of my peas. And so peas, when it gets hot, they're like, I'm done.
And they start wilting and, and turning brown and bad, but like putting some Swiss chard over top of the peas ended up kind of shading the ground a little more and helped the peas last longer, like I was eating them later into the year,
Amy: Ooh, that's a great tip.
Eric: Yeah. So now I'm missing gardening. I'm talking about all these gardening tips here, and we've been traveling the country for the last three years, so I haven't really had, I haven't had a garden. So, um, definitely missing that here. I look forward to getting back that again one day.
📋 How to Use Swiss Chard
Eric: All right. Uh, Amy, so I would love for you to share with us some ways you use Swiss chard besides the ones you've already mentioned, and maybe, um, some recipes you have on your site that people can go towards to use with chard.
Amy: Yeah, well one of my favorite recipes that I have on my site is a Swiss Chard Pasta with Garlic. And garlic and chard go really, really well together. Um, they're great pairing. So all I do is for, it's kind of a rustic Italian pasta dish. So I just sauté some garlic and olive oil and then, add the chard, I just, um, chop it up finely.
And you can use the stems as well, so you don't have to waste those. You can just chop those, um, finer than the leaves. And what you can do is put those in the pan first. So because they take a little bit longer to get soft, and then you can add the leaves in and, um, it Just gives it a great flavor with the garlic and olive oil.
And then you just simply toss that with some cooked pasta. I like to use like maybe a shorter pasta, like a penne. That way you get a little bit of the chard with the pasta in each bite. So it's just a really simple, rustic dish. Um, and, you know, people really enjoy it even if they've never had chard before.
I think it's a, it's a great way to introduce them to it. And like you were talking about, you can really use it anywhere you would use spinach. So if you're making like a soup or stew, um, instead of throwing in some spinach leaves at the end, you can just throw in some chopped chard and, you know, it kind of, um, wilts in with the broth or the, um, the hot liquid.
And, um, it adds a lot of nutrients and a lot of really great color to it. Like you had mentioned before, you know, it's really a beautiful vegetable, so, you know, you can just throw it in pretty much anything. I mean, even if you're doing a simple sauté. Um, you can throw in some of the leaves, um, and the stems, and you know, it's a great way to add this vegetable to your routine.
Eric: Those are wonderful tips. Yeah, and I think, you know, chard is one of those things, you know, a quick cooking thing too, like, you know, I think people are trying to get more vegetables in their diet. It's easy to, you know, it's an easier thing to do. You're not cooking it very long, especially with like a soup.
You already have a hot broth, you know, it's like, why not? Why not just throw some, you know, spinach or chard in there, or baby kale or something like that, that it's gonna, you know, cook quick enough here that the broth iss gonna heat up and you have vegetable in it.
Eric: You know, maybe, I mean, maybe you didn't feel like chopping carrots or doing potatoes or you know, any of those type of things here, but this is something you can just like, boom, it's in there.
You know, try to.
Amy: You know, I've even done the same thing with rice or grains. Like if you like cook up a pot of rice or quinoa, like either on the stove or in your Instant Pot, at the very end, you can just stir in some of the chopped chard and it will just kind of, you know, work its way into the grains from the heat and it's nice and tender and you know, it just gives an a little bit of extra vegetable in there where you wouldn't have it otherwise.
Eric: Yeah, that again, that wonderful idea. One of those things you can kind of just slip in. It doesn't need to be like a major commitment. It's not like, you know, say buying an artichoke. You know, or that's a whole adventure in trying to, you know, get through that, eat that, to figure out how to, how to even cook a thing and not, not poke yourself.
Um, so this,
Eric: Crazy really easy vegetable just to, um, throw into any type of meal. So, yeah. So yeah guys, I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. Thank you a Amy for coming on and talking to me today about Swiss Chard. I appreciate it.
Summary of How to Use Swiss Chard - Mix it with pasta along with garlic, baby greens for a salad, throw them into a hot soup, stir chopped chard into rice or quinoa.
🔎 Find Amy
Eric: Where can people go to find you online?
Amy: So you can find me at veggiessavetheday.com. And I'm also on social media at Veggies Save the Day. And I love discussing, um, all things fresh produce. So feel free to send me a DM or shoot me an email at amykatz at veggiessavetheday.com.
Eric: Thank you for sharing this here, and we look forward to our next veggie spotlight episode with you.
Amy: Thanks for having me, Eric. This has been great.
🎧 If you liked this episode check out another episode in this series - Episode 122 - Veggie Spotlight - Asparagus
Here are the links to Amy's recipe using Swiss Chard.