Swiss chard is familiar in winter time - one of those dark, leafy greens sitting modestly in the background, hiding behind the heaps of winter citrus and interesting squash. With its slightly bitter flavor and pungent smell, Swiss chard is not always the most appealing of vegetables.
It is, however, much more interesting than that bagged spinach or the flavorless heads of pale lettuce, and if you're willing to try it out, there's a great deal that can be done with it. First of all, did you know you can make pesto from it?
Yes - try this Swiss Chard Pesto. Or try it just simply sauteed. Orangette's classic Chard, Onion, and Gruyère Panade fed me for a week last winter, with the chard the perfect, robust complement to the heady cheese. Or you could try these Swiss Chard and Crisp Shallot Rolls as an appetizer, or Swiss Chard, Leek, and Goat Cheese Tart for breakfast.
Another classic winter pairing is beets and Swiss chard; this salad looks like a good example: Swiss Chard with Beets, Goat Cheese and Raisins. If you want something fancier for a weekend dinner, try Daniel Boulud's Stuffed Quail With Fresh Figs and Swiss Chard Leaves.
(Photo credit: UBC Botanical Garden)