Basic Technique: How to Prepare Chard (Or Any Other Leafy Green!)

Facing a big pile of leafy green chard and knowing you have to somehow get it sliced it into bite-sized ribbons can feel a bit daunting. But it's really a lot easier than you might think! Here's how we do it:

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First things first, give your chard a good rinse in the sink. Even greens bought at the grocery store can carry a lot of grit and dirt in the leaves. We usually fill up the sink with warm (not hot) water and give the chard a good swish. The grit rinses away and sinks to the bottom.

We use a kitchen towel to pat the excess water from the leaves, but we don't really worry about getting them completely dry. During cooking, the extra moisture will turn to steam and help the chard to cook.

The next step is to remove the center stem. We find that the easiest way to do this is to fold the leaf in half and use our fingers to tear out the stem. It should separate pretty easily from the leaf. If this doesn't work for you, try stacking several leaves on the cutting board and using a knife to cut out the center stems.

Save those stems! We think they taste like a cross between celery and broccoli, and they're great in a stir-fry. If you can't use them in whatever you're cooking right now, put them back in the fridge for another night.

And finally, we get to the fun part!

Stack several of the de-stemmed leaves on top of each other and cut them into long ribbons - thick or thin, it doesn't matter. If you want shorter ribbons, cut the stack in half lengthwise and then slice the ribbons crosswise. Hold the stack with your non-cutting hand in the claw position to keep the layers in place, and work in a few batches so you're not trying to cut too much at once.

This is also how you'd prepare any other leafy green, like kale or spinach. It can feel like a lot of work for only one ingredient, but we always find that it goes faster than we think. Plus, there's something immensely satisfying about reducing a big awkward bunch of leaves into a tidy bowl of ribbons ready to be cooked!

Is this how you prepare your greens, or do you have another method? Please share!

Related: Chard, Kale, and Spinach: What to do with Hearty Greens

(Images: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)

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