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How to Stem Swiss Chard
Swiss chard, red chard, golden chard, or rainbow chard. Whatever type of chard you have on hand has bright, stiff stems and deeply grooved, bumpy leaves. The difference in texture between the stems and leaves should reveal to even the novice cook that these two parts do not cook at the same rate and time.
Luckily, the visible stems and ribs running up the center of these big, temptingly tasty leaves are easy to remove and cook separately from the leaves.
First things first: Rinse off any dirt or debris from the leaves and pat them dry before proceeding. Take a good look at the chard, sometimes it just needs a quick rinse, other times clumps of dirt may be clinging to it (especially if it's been rainy)—you do not want that dirt ruining dinner.Continue to 2 of 4 below.
02 of 04
Trim & Fold the Chard
Gather the cleaned leaves together. Cut off and discard any browned or damaged sections of the stems.
Some bunches will be relatively clean and easy—just chop off the bottom of the stems and move along. Other times, you'll have a bunch with some browning up the stems that need to be "shaved" off and discarded so you have pristine stems ready to cook.
After the mass trimming, work with one leaf at a time for the best results.
Take a chard leaf, fold it in half lengthwise, and lay it in front of you.
This isn't an exact science, nor is it rocket science—you're just folding the leaf along its natural center, putting the stem/rib facing one way and the edges of the leaf the other way.Continue to 3 of 4 below.
03 of 04
Cut out the Stem
Use a sharp knife to cut along the edge of the stem rib. How aggressive you are about cutting out all of the stems and sacrificing some of the leaf is up to you.
Repeat with remaining leaves, stacking the stems and leaves separately.Continue to 4 of 4 below.
04 of 04
Repeat With the Remaining Leaves
Once done, you will have a stack of chard stems and a pile of chard leaves. The point of separating them is to be able to cook each to its own best use. A few ideas to get you started:
- Use them in a soup. Chop and saute the stems with the other aromatics or vegetables, make the soup, and then add the chopped up leaves at the end for a burst of green.
- Make Stuffed Chard Leaves. Here, the stems are chopped and used in the filling and the leaves are kept whole, stuffed, and baked.
- Fold up Swiss Chard Dumplings. The stems get sautéed before the leaves, making sure things are cooked evenly in the savory stuffing.
- Bake a Chard Stem Gratin when, like so many people, you just need the leaves for a recipe. The gratin makes delicious use of the stems, so don't throw them out.