Young and tender chard stems require little extra thought, but when the stalks turn thick, and perhaps stringy, it's usually best to trim them from the leaves. That doesn't mean you should toss them in the compost or garbage bin, though. Treat them as another vegetable and you have an ingredient for pickles, gratins, and more.
• Refrigerator pickles: These pickled chard stems are spicy, sweet, acidic, and especially pretty when made with rainbow chard.
• Gratin: A little extra cooking can turn chard stems tender and sweet. For inspiration, see Sunset's Chard-stem Gratin with breadcrumbs and cheese.
• Dip: Swiss chard stalks and tahini are combined in a Middle Eastern dip reminiscent of baba ghanoush. We like this recipe from Taste of Beirut.
• Vegetable stock: Toss the stems in the freezer along with other vegetable scraps. When you've collected enough, make an easy vegetable stock.
• With the leaves: In most cases you can eat chard stems in the same dish as the leaves. If the stalks are thick, finely chop them and start cooking them a little earlier so they become tender.
How do you like to eat chard stems?
Related: Conscientious Cook: Good Uses for Broccoli Stalks
(Images: UBC Botanical Garden; Anjali Prasertong)