How To Cook Chard

You never know what will be a success in the vegetable garden. This year my bell peppers withered and fell off of the plants. Total fail. But the chard keeps unfurling green, sturdy, and almost unscathed by pests. It requires frequent harvesting.



Before working with it in the kitchen, I give the leaves a quick wash to get the worst of the dirt off.



It’s best to cook the ribs and dark parts separately so that the tender leaves don’t turn to mush while waiting for the ribs to soften. The easiest way to separate them is simply to tear the greens off of the rib.



I do this all the way down the plant.



I wash the leafy parts into a bowl of water. Swirl, lift out, change the water. This can take three dunkings before the grit is thoroughly rinsed off.



The ribs are edible, and chopped are a nice addition to vegetable soups. But, I have such an abundance of greens, that in all honesty, I don’t want to bother with them. Luckily, I have goats who love crunching them down, and so Pip and Caper get the ribs. The chickens also devour chard, even the insect-chewed and wilted plants. Only the choicest vegetables go onto my own table.



Here they are raw and ready to work with. Greens give off a lot of water when cooked, and so you shouldn’t add them raw to recipes other than soup. These chard leaves were destined to go into a frittata, and also get made into a cold, dressed vegetable side-dish.



When cooked, greens shrink down to less than a quarter of their volume. So, start them in a big pot. I use a wok with about an inch of boiling water in the bottom. I put in the greens, and, using tongs, turn them over constantly as they shrink and wilt. Here they are after only one minute.



One more minute and they are done.



Drain them in a colander.



When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess moisture. This is what you end up with. Doesn’t look like much does it? But, you know how many leaves went into this!


Chopped, these cooked chard greens can be added to lasagna, stratas, omelets, or just about anything. You can squeeze on fresh lemon juice and stir with the best extra virgin olive oil that you have, add salt and a bit of red pepper flakes to make a traditional Italian dish. Use dark sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds for an Asian side.

Cooked chard can be frozen. I use a vacuum sealer and it stays fresh until cold weather arrives and I’m ready to make hearty winter soups.

I’ve just planted my fall crop of spinach. I’m hoping that it will be as successful as the chard. But, you never know with gardening.


  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one that didn’t get bell peppers, not a one grew a pepper I beautiful plants though ;-(. Tomatoes have not done well either. It just has not been hot enough here. (I can’t believe I just said that!)

    • Opposite here Ken, too hot in VA for the cherry tomatos, and the squirrels are thieving little tree rats. Does anyone know how to keep squirrels from stealing tomatos ? Looney dog is trying and she is fast and has killed one squirrel, but there is only so much that a chihuahua can do.

  2. i’ve never grown chard. or eaten it for that matter :) thanks for the reminder to get my Fall seeds in. i got two peppers early on and ever since…nothing. gardening is so hit or miss.

      • I have a good crop of peppers this even year even with all the rain. I think it’s because I have a great big raised bed garden. I have bell, Marconi, sweet banana, Hungarian hot wax, hot lemon peppers, jalapeno, and Gurney’s double delight, I think. Come cooler weather in September, they usually do even better. I like to make and can hot pepper chutney.

  3. I grow chard too, (in pots on the lanai) and often cut it crosswise, stems and all, and cook it covered in a bit of olive oil. The moisture in the leaves is enough. My hens won’t touch it though!

    • I also like my greens quickly sauteed in olive oil and a bit of garlic. As far as chickens not eating them – chickens do have specific tastes, and sometimes entire flocks spurn foods that other flocks eat up. Who knows why…

  4. I see leaves and twigs all over the hens’ outdoor area. Did the hens tear up that branch from yesterday all by themselves?

  5. That’s exactly how I cook my chard and my girls also get any of the less than perfect bits. They love it and strip it themselves leaving the stems for me to pick up later. I like having crops we can share. We also share pac choi and perpetual spinach. I am growing corn cobs too to share if they ripen.

  6. just for the record, this is in wisconsin and last year i had bell peppers from plants growing out of pots already. this year, the plants are lovely, and these are in the ground but yesterday was the first blossom any of them had put on. hard to predict what will happen now. our tree leaves are starting to turn and that’s pretty late to expect a full size pepper before frost

  7. Yes you just never know with gardening. I always have great success with peppers. Not so ths year. Mine all fell off too! But my chard is doing well. I ave to get my fall plants in I am running behind lol

  8. My chooks adore Chard (often called Silver Beet over here). They will eat it first rather than anything else in the orchard where they live. I am just planting some in the garden as we head towards spring.