Switzerland: Tomatoes and Swiss Chard, and it’s in Season!

Published by Tuesday, August 16, 2011 Permalink 0
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by Jonell Galloway

Swiss chard, along with kale, mustard greens and collard greens, is one of several leafy green vegetables often referred to as “greens”. It is a tall leafy green vegetable with a thick, crunchy stalk that comes in white, red or yellow with wide fan-like green leaves.

The Swiss variety tends to have whitish stems not dissimilar to green celery but wider and somewhat fan-shaped, while the varieties found in North America can be red, purpose or yellow. Some say chard is second only to spinach in terms of nutrients, and it is certainly full of fiber and phytonutrients.

When choosing chard, make sure the leaves are not wilted and the stems look fresh and crisp. If it looks limp in any way, pass it up.

It is one of the few vegetables that probably shouldn’t be eaten raw, due to its high acid content.

Although it is referred to as “Swiss” chard, it isn’t actually native to Switzerland. It is a Mediterranean vegetable. Already in the fourth century B.C., Aristotle wrote about “chard”, the common name used in the Mediterranean region. It probably got its name from a vegetable that it resembles, the cardoon. It is thought that the French confused the two and ended up calling them both “charde”.

In modern times, the French call Swiss chard blettes, the Swiss call them côtes de bettes, and, funnily enough, the English-speaking world has kept the name closest to the original used in ancient times: chard.


Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with variously col...









Its actual homeland lies farther south, in the Mediterranean region; in fact, the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote about chard in the fourth century B.C. This is not surprising given the fact that the ancient Greeks, and later the Romans, honored chard for its medicinal properties. Chard got its common name from another Mediterranean vegetable, cardoon, a celery-like plant with thick stalks that resemble those of chard. The French got the two confused and called them both “carde.”

Swiss chard is in season for a good deal of the year in Switzerland, but this recipe takes advantage of summer to use some of those divine tomatoes that embellish the farmers markets.

In winter, it can be mixed with potatoes to make a lovely purée or soup.


Tomatoes and Swiss Chard


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1 Tbsp. cooking oil

1 kg Swiss chard

500 g ripe tomatoes

1 tsp. sea salt
Pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil to medium low in a Dutch oven.
  2. In the meantime, bring a large soup pan of water to boil.
  3. Scrape any mud or black spots off Swiss chard. Wash carefully.
  4. Cut stems into 2 cm long chunks.
  5. Add Swiss chard to warm oil.
  6. Sautée for 2 minutes, stirring all the time.
  7. Wash tomatoes.
  8. Drop tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds or until skin starts to crack.
  9. Remove tomatoes from boiling water, and run under cold water, carefully removing the skins with fingers.
  10. Squeeze to remove seeds or scrape out seeds with end of a knife.
  11. Chop finely.
  12. Add tomatoes to Swiss chard. Mix well.
  13. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Continue mixing.
  14. Turn heat down to low and cover Dutch oven. Cook slowly for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on whether you prefer it crunchy or less crunchy.
  15. Serve hot.

Suggestion: For a livelier version, add garlic and garam masala.

Suggestion: To make this in to a vegetarian meal, add borlotti, cannellini beans  or garbanzo beans and sprinkle with grated cheese.

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  • Deb
    August 18, 2011

    Enjoyed the history of chard. I always wondered about the name “Swiss chard”. Informative and concise, thanks for sharing.

    • Jonell Galloway
      August 18, 2011

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It’s always nice to have a little history about what we eat. I find it gives it a different dimension when one knows where it came from.