We go through a bunch of Swiss chard every week (we use the leaves to make Blender Green Juice), so I’m constantly looking for ways to make use of the chard stalks. Because the stems keep longer in the fridge than the leaves do I tend to store them up for a couple of weeks, then make something from them.
If you've ever wondered if Swiss chard stalks are edible, or wondered if there was a tasty way to make use of them, read on!
Swiss chard is a super healthy green, leafy veggie, loaded with antioxidants and detoxifying nutrients and the stalks are very good for you, too. Although chard is becoming scarce in the farmers markets and CSA boxes now that the weather has cooled, you can usually find chard in your local veggie store year round.
There are several varieties of chard with beautiful mutli-coloured stems like bright lights and rhubarb, along with other varieties that have plainer white stems. Any of them would work well in the suggestions below.
Don’t know what to do with Swiss chard, period? Never fear, you can use the leaves in most of these recipes, too!
I don’t exactly have specific recipes for most of these ideas; I just toss things into pots willy-nilly at random. So things turn out a little differently each time, but these are the basic guidelines. Most of these dishes call for about 1 bunch worth of stems (or about 1 cup of stems with leaves removed and chopped into 1” chunks). I usually bake, boil or saute the stems, as I find them a bit too crunchy/stringy/chewy raw.
What to do with Swiss Chard Stems
1. Make Vegetable Soup
Build a simple soup around the stems! In a large pot, fry one chopped onion and a clove or two of garlic in butter or oil. Slice off the leaves from one bunch of chard and chop stems into 1” chunks. Add 6 cups of stock and your chard stems to the pot. Toss in a handful of rice, rice noodles, lentils, peas or a can of beans and simmer for 20 minutes, until all the ingredients are soft. You could also add other veggies like carrots, potatoes, or other root veggies.
Add some fresh or dried parsley and oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Voila, super easy soup.
2. Make Asian-style Soup
Remove the leaves from your chard and chop into 1” chunks. Peel and mince a ½” chunk of ginger. Add 6 cups of stock, 1 Tbsp gluten free soy sauce or coconut aminos, chard and ginger to a large pot. Toss in about 1 cup worth of rice vermicelli, broken into small pieces. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the noodles and chard are soft. Add the leaves at the end if you like (they soften really fast).
Voila, even easier than the first soup and one of my favorite lunches.
Or just toss them in with your regular old stir fried veggies. Chop some onions and garlic, and a bit of peeled ginger. Fry them in oil until softened, then add some carrots, broccoli, peppers, bok choy or other greens, and chard stems (with leaves removed and sliced into 1” chunks). Fry until softened. Sprinkle with approx. 1 Tbsp GF soy sauce or coconut aminos and ½ Tbsp rice vinegar, you could also add a spoonful of honey. Serve over rice or rice noodles.
4. Sauteed Swiss Chard.
Remove stems and chop into 1” chunks. In a large pan, melt 1 Tbsp butter or dairy free alternative, or olive oil. Fry 1 clove of minced garlic for 1 minute, then add the stems and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve as a side dish.
5. Roast them.
Remove leaves and slice into 1” chunks. Arrange in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkle with 1 clove of chopped garlic. Roast for about 20 minutes, until softened and season with salt and pepper.
6. Make coconut breaded Swiss chard stems!
A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for coconut breaded Swiss chard stalks. They are savoury and delicious.
7. Try Jo-Lynn’s Parmesan Baked Swiss Chard Stems.
One of the great sites that I frequent is Jo-Lynne Shane’s Musings of a Housewife, and she also recently posted a recipe for baked Swiss chard stems.
8. Make them into Tahini Dip.
The New York Times has a gorgeous looking recipe for pureed Swiss chard stems and tahini.
If you're looking for more posts like this, you might want to check out 8 Ways to Use Wrinkly Old Bell Peppers.
So that's what I've come up with so far. How do you use up your Swiss chard stems?
Have you seen my cookbook, Recipes for Unusual Gluten Free Pasta? Pick yourself up a copy and start making GF wontons, dumplings, and pierogi today!