Swiss chard, also known as rainbow chard and silverbeet and botanically known as Betula vulgaris, subspecies vulgaris, is a leafy green originally found in the Mediterranean saline soils of Greece and Italy. The plant’s “Swiss” lineage is a complicated misnomer due to 19th century botanists and gardeners confusing the crop with other plants, such as beets and cardoons.
Swiss chard’s brightly colored stems and luscious leaves taste like a sweeter version of beet greens, and they are typically sautéed or blanched before eating. It is best to de-stem the leaves and cook chopped stems separate — or save the stems for a relish tray and eat them like celery stalks.
Swiss chard is available year-round at the Mill City Farmers Market and is at its best in early summer and fall. The market, located on 2nd & Chicago downtown, also offers free cooking classes at 10:30 a.m. every Saturday for anyone looking for easy and creative ways to prepare seasonal produce and other market ingredients.
The recipe below is from the Mill City Cooks class on May 13th with food educator and chef Jenny Breen. Find more information about the market and an archive of all their demo recipes at millcityfarmersmarket.org.
Stuffed chard rolls
By market chef Jenny Breen
For the rolls
- ½ cup wheat berries from Sunrise Flour Mill and 1 cup wild rice in 2 cups water, set aside (or you can substitute brown rice or any other grain you have on hand)
- 2 dozen chard leaves, stems removed (and saved), blanched for 20-30 seconds, set aside
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced (use 2 bunches ramps if in season)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Chard stems, diced small
- 2 tablespoons dill weed or 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup cooked lentils, or ground meat (lamb, pork, chicken, turkey) or minced nuts
- ½ cup currants or other dried fruit, minced (optional)
- Olive oil for coating pan and drizzling over rolls (about 3 tablespoons)
For the yogurt goat cheese sauce
- 8 oz. soft goat cheese from Singing Hills Dairy
- 3 Tablespoons plain yogurt
- 2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons minced herbs (green garlic, dill, parsley, mint etc.)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil and sauté onion and garlic until tender, about 3 minutes, then add chard stems and sauté until soft–about another 3–5 minutes. Add dill, salt and lemon juice, cooked lentils/ground meat or nuts and cooked rice. Remove from heat and mix well. Add dried fruit if using.
Lay out chard leaves with the rough vein-side up, and spoon about a tablespoon of filling into the centers. Fold the sides in and then roll all the way to the top of the leaf.
Place the roll, seam side down in oiled pan. When pan is filled, drizzle with olive oil and a little water or lemon juice, cover and heat for 15 minutes. Makes 24 rolls.
For the sauce, combine goat cheese and yogurt with whisk, add oil to desired consistency (can be used as a “dip” or a sauce, depending on how thick you make it. Add herbs, salt, pepper and whisk well. Pour or spoon over rolls.