This Rainbow Chard Salad is a deliciously smart way to use a vibrant underutilized veggie. Watch your back, kale, there’s a pretty new super green in town and it’s moving in on your turf…
Chard, or Swiss chard, isn’t Swiss at all, but an ancient Mediterranean plant, related to beets. Rainbow chard is a variety with gorgeous day-glo stems.
A spring trip to the farmers market inspired this recipe. Rainbow chard is irresistible, the colors are unlike any other vegetable, they’re almost unbelievable. A lot of people think you have to discard the stems, can you imagine?? The stems are delicious and crunchy ~ eat them every day and you’ll live to be a hundred. (That last part isn’t proven, but I’m working on it.)
I didn’t want to compromise those beautiful colors in any way, so I just sliced up the stems and shredded the greens for a beautiful salad.
Wait, can you eat rainbow chard raw?
- You can absolutely eat chard raw, the same way you would eat kale or spinach raw.
Even the stems?
- Yup, the stems are great raw, they’re crunchy like celery!
Isn’t chard bitter?
- Chard has a slightly bitter, earthy flavor, like other dark leafy greens. I add naturally sweet ingredients to chard dishes to balance that out. Cooking reduces the bitterness, if you don’t enjoy it.
Are those colors natural??
- Totally! Those pigments help protect the plant from UV rays and attract pollinators, too. They certainly attracted me.
Is rainbow chard healthy?
- You better believe it, rainbow chard isn’t just pretty, like all dark leafy greens it’s a super food exploding with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. It’s fat free, and very low in calories.
You can substitute chard in any recipe where you would use kale, or spinach, so it makes it easy to come up with ways to use this pretty vegetable.
I based this salad on my favorite kale salad, which was itself inspired by one I get at the deli counter at my supermarket. I copied the combination of toasted sunflower seeds (call me crazy, but I think this salad has to have sunflower seeds, and they have to be toasted! There’s something about the seeds that makes hardy greens so much tastier. Just try it and see if you don’t agree) and a good creamy imported feta cheese. I add slivered apples for the important bit of sweetness, but you could also use blueberries, golden raisins, or dried cranberries.
Just like kale, chard is sturdy and holds up well int he refrigerator, even after being dressed. Plan on making extra so you can take it to work for lunch.
Rainbow chard is not only great for salads, you can juice it, or add it to smoothies. I love to stir fry it, sometimes with tofu, sometimes with shrimp. The color of those stems holds during short cooking, too!
Try chard in place of kale in my CHEDDAR KALE SKILLET CORNBREAD, or in this simple KALE SLAW. Rainbow chard would be ideal in my Mediterranean inspired CHICKEN THIGHS WITH WHITE BEANS AND WILTED GREENS.
Reader Rave ~
“This was so next level good! The dressing was on point. At first we thought it was a bit lemony, but when put on the salad it balanced out the bitterness of the chard perfectly. We just made the dressing – for toppings did blood oranges, cuties, pistachios, and goat cheese. Try this recipe – great way to get your greens, and have something more interesting than basic lettuce.” ~ M. Carter
- 6 stalks assorted color rainbow chard, or about 1 cup greens and sliced stems per person
- 1 small shallot, peeled and finely minced
- 1 small Granny Smith apple, cut into fine matchsticks
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry pan until fragrant
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (imported sheep's milk cheese is best)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp champagne vinegar (or your favorite)
- juice of 1 lemon (save a little to coat the cut apple to keep it from browning)
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Wash, dry, and trim the ends from your chard. Slice the stalks in thin slices, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch. If they are very thick, slice them lengthwise and then chop. Add the stems to a large bowl.
- Take the large leaves and slice them lengthwise into several pieces, and then slice again into small slices or ribbons. The aim here is to avoid large pieces of the greens, which can be tough. Slicing them small makes them tender. Add to the bowl with the stalks, along with the shallot. Toss the chard with some of the dressing ~ enough to moisten but not drown.
- Slice the apple into very thin matchsticks. Toss with a spritz of lemon juice so it doesn't brown. I toss the apple with my hands so I make sure every surface gets coated.
- Add the apples and the toasted sunflower seeds to the top of the chard. Crumble the feta over the top, and give everything a good grinding of fresh black pepper.
Make it your own ~
- You can make this salad with kale or spinach.
- Add some hard cooked egg, shrimp, or chicken for extra protein.
- Grow your own rainbow chard, it’s a great starter crop for kids because it’s easy to grow, has a really early and long growing season, and it’s so pretty!