Thursday, March 22, 2012

Braised Chard with Leeks

Plated Braised Chard with Leeks
Garlic and Leeks Compliment Chard

Recipe by Robin

To say that chard saved my life is perhaps an exaggeration. To say that it saved my spirit is not. Back in the days that I lived mostly on beans, rice, and ramen, I could only dream of a supply of fresh veggies in winter. I wasn’t aware of which veggies were in season, only how much they cost at the market. I had no idea that local farms were growing vegetables year-round.

Multicolor Chard Stems Sauteing with Leeks
Adding Chard Stems to Leeks
One especially bleak February, financially speaking, when the weather was none too sunny either, I walked down to an abandoned garden area on the rental property I shared. I couldn’t believe my eyes. In the midst of dark and cold, three chard plants grew amongst the weeds, with no watering except rain. I recalled that the man who rented my apartment before me had planted chard, and that these must be their descendants…7 years later! This small miracle meant that I could eat greens for the rest of the winter.

I had never prepared chard before, much less appreciated it. Since then I’ve learned that chard has the unique ability to take on the flavor of the field in which it’s grown. The chard from my past tasted salty because of our proximity to the ocean. Go to Kauai, and chard tastes much different, flavored with iron and other minerals from the island's infamous red dirt.

Chard Leaves almost Overflowing Saute Pan
Press Chard Leaves into Pan & Cover with Lid
The simple cooking method that I used back then is still my favorite: steamed and served with apple cider vinegar and salt at the table. My husband is less enthusiastic about the vinegar part, so I’m trying to branch out and try new chard recipes. This recipe was created to treat Bruce to something different…and to use up a couple of leeks and some thyme we’ve had around for awhile. 

You can substitute different herbs in this simple braise. Any color/s of chard will work. Onions or shallots can be used in place of the leeks, or use a combination. You could also add a splash of wine in place of some of the broth.

Plate of Rainbow Chard Braised with Leeks and Garlic
With Rainbow Chard
Braised Chard with Leeks
serves about 3

2 small leeks
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch rainbow chard
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. or more fresh thyme
1 cup veggie broth
salt and freshly ground pepper

Mince the garlic. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly. Make into ½ inch slices, including both white part and greens that aren’t tough or wilted. You will have about 1 ½ cups.

Remove stems from chard. Cut stems into 2-inch matchsticks. Tear or cut leaves into 2-inch pieces.

Heat olive oil on medium high in sauté pan. Sauté leeks in oil till slightly golden, about 2  minutes, stirring frequently. Add chard stems, stir and sauté for another 2 – 3 minutes, till chard starts to soften.

Add broth and salt and pepper to taste, depending on saltiness of broth. I used ¼ tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Cover and simmer 3 – 4 minutes, till chard is half-tender.

Add thyme and pile leaves onto sauté pan. Cover and return to simmer for about 2 minutes, until chard leaves wilt. Stir leaves into broth, cover and continue simmering till chard leaves are cooked, about 1 – 2 minutes.


  1. Yum! I will definitely try this one!

  2. Thanks so much for linking up this recipe at our chard link party at 2 Sisters 2 Cities! You have so many great recipes for a CSA.