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Chard (or Swiss Chard). The word “chard” originally comes from the Latin word cardus which means thistle. The common ancestor of beets and Swiss chard is sea beet (Beta vulgaris subspecies maritima),  a small, unobtrusive, wild relative of spinach with a whorl of dark green leaves sometimes     tinged red and with no thickened root or wide leaf stems. It grows on the Atlantic coast of  Europe, on the margins of the Mediterranean and eastward as far as India, often on beaches and in salt marshes. It's not known when people domesticated this edible wild plant or developed beets and chard from it, but beets are mentioned in cuneiform tablets in Babylon in the eighth    century B.C., and chard, including a red variety, had become a common vegetable in Greece by the fourth century B.C.

It comes as no surprise then that chard is a staple of the Mediterranean diet.  It can be combined with many other ingredients to provide the nutritious, anti-oxidant and fiber rich meals which are the mainstay of this heart healthy approach to eating.  Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads, while mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sautéed.  Their bitterness fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavor which is more delicate than that of cooked spinach.  Chard has a slightly meatier texture and earthier flavor than spinach, but its leaves can be cooked in any manner you would its goosefoot family counterpart.  In fact, the general rule of thumb when cooking chard is to treat the leaves as you would spinach and the stems as you would asparagus.  In reality, there’s really not that much differentiation since either spinach, chard leaves or chard stems can be boiled, steamed, braised, and sautéed.  In addition to serving as a side dish, Swiss chard can be incorporated into stuffings, pasta sauces, soups, salads and other preparations. 


Garbanzos and Swiss Chard in the Style of the Tunisian Sahel

Super Fresh Sauteed Chard