Best Substitutes For Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is a vegetable of the beetroot family, with large, ruffled leaves and white stems. It’s pretty standard in Europe and Australia but isn’t always in stores elsewhere. What happens if you come across it in a recipe but don’t have any to hand? What can you substitute for Swiss chard?

Advertisement

The best substitute for Swiss chard is spinach, as the two vegetables are similar in taste, texture, and nutritional value. You can also substitute beet, collard, and mustard greens, bok choy, kale, escarole, dandelion leaves, and celery, although there will be variations in flavor and texture.

Swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, kale, and beetroot greens are all gorgeous, leafy veggies that are high in iron and very nutritious additions to your diet. Are these leafy vegetables interchangeable, despite their differences in texture and taste? Which is the best substitute for Swiss chard?

Table of Contents

Substitutes For Swiss Chard

Before finding out the best substitutes for Swiss chard, let’s find out what this leafy vegetable is all about.

What Is Swiss Chard?

Swiss chard, a member of the beetroot family, is also known as silverbeet, beat spinach, or leaf beet. The vegetable has Mediterranean origins, and the “Swiss” part of its name comes from the botanist who first described it. Chard is extremely popular in Mediterranean cuisine for its health benefits and versatility.

Chard is a highly nutritious vegetable, rich in vitamins A, K, C, and E, as well as magnesium, potassium, and iron. Like other green, leafy veg, chard helps to regulate blood sugar, encourages bone health, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Swiss chard leaves and stems range from bright green to reds, yellows, and colorful varieties grouped together as Rainbow chard. However, the vivid color of the leaves and stems is deceptive as the flavor of Swiss chard is quite delicate, slightly bitter, while baby Swiss chard is even mild enough to be eaten raw.

Swiss chard leaves can be steamed, wilted, sautéed, microwaved, or braised. They are a delicious addition to a savory tart or quiche or a stuffing for pasta. The baby leaves can be eaten as a salad.

When preparing Swiss chard leaves, you should remove the stems and fleshy ribs and cook them separately, as they are somewhat like celery, crunchy and sweet, and are delicious with a cream or cheese sauce.

Beet Greens As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Being of the same family and with similarly beautiful leaves, beet greens would seem the ideal substitute for Swiss chard. However, beet greens have a more robust, earthier flavor than chard, more like kale, but with the bitterness of chard. They also have a more fibrous texture.

Unlike chard, the stems of beetroot are not edible as a separate vegetable and need to be removed before eating. Remember also that beet leaves can bleed their color during cooking.

You can replace Swiss chard with the same amount of beet leaves, but note that beet leaves will require a few minutes longer cooking as their texture is slightly coarser.

Best Uses For Beet Leaves Instead of Swiss Chard

  • Use beet leaves instead of Swiss chard, primarily if you serve the greens as a braised or sautéed side vegetable.
  • Add beet leaves to a stew instead of Swiss chard for an additional texture and nutritional punch.
  • Shredded beet leaves make an excellent addition to a stir fry.

Spinach As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Although the two vegetables are unrelated, spinach is the most obvious and ideal substitute for Swiss chard. Both are similarly leafy and wilt quickly when exposed to heat, as these vegetables are high in water.

You can replace Swiss chard in a recipe with equal amounts of spinach, either mature spinach or baby spinach. Spinach is as versatile a vegetable as chard.

Prepare spinach as you would chard; however, if you have only mature spinach leaves, discard the thick white stems and veins at the base of the leaves.

Best Uses For Spinach Instead of Swiss Chard

  • Cook spinach as you would Swiss chard: boiling, steaming, or frying gently for a couple of minutes until just wilted and dressed with butter and nutmeg.
  • Use spinach instead of Swiss chard in quiches or a filling for ravioli. Blanch the leaves and then drain and squeeze out as much moisture as possible before using.
  • Toss wilted spinach leaves through fresh, hot pasta as with Swiss chard.
  • Add spinach to an omelet instead of chard.
  • Use spinach instead of Swiss chard in green smoothies.
  • Use baby spinach leaves instead of baby Swiss chard in a salad.

Bok Choy As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Although part of the cabbage family, bok choy is a good substitute for Swiss chard because of its tender leaves and delicate, nutty flavor. Bok choy wilts as quickly as spinach, and Swiss chard do. This Asian veg also has a milder flavor than either, making it a good choice if you have youngsters who don’t like the bitter flavors of chard.

Unless the bok choy is particularly old, there is no need to remove the stems from the leaves. Prepare bok choy as for chard in the exact quantities and the same recipes.

Best Uses For Bok Choy Instead of Swiss Chard

  • Steam or braise bok choy as you would Swiss chard, for four to eight minutes. For both vegetables, you can steam or braise whole leaves because they are so tender.
  • As with Swiss Chard, bok choy pairs well with mushrooms, lemon, and garlic.
  • Bok choy is a suitable replacement for Swiss chard in stir-fries.

Collard Greens As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Collard greens, that Southern staple, are also a good substitute for Swiss chard. Collard greens are members of the mustard family and have a flavor somewhat like kale or cabbage, ranging from mild and sweet to robust and mustardy.

Because of their more potent flavor, collards are not always suitable as a replacement for Swiss chard and would not be appropriate in a quiche or ravioli stuffing.

Prepare collard greens in the same way as you would prepare kale, discarding the tough stalks and chopping the green leaves into strips so that they cook more quickly.

Best Uses For Collard Greens Instead of Swiss Chard

  • Serve collard greens as a side vegetable instead of Swiss chard, boiling it for 10-15 minutes and then draining thoroughly. Because of its more assertive flavor, collard greens go well with garlic, onion, and chili, so you can season these greens more strongly than you would Swiss chard.
  • Add collard greens to a risotto instead of chard.
  • Collard greens make a delicious dip – they can replace chard in traditional chard dips, rather like baba ghanoush.
  • Traditionally collard greens are cooked with salt pork or bacon. This recipe is not a typical Swiss chard preparation, so it would be an unlikely substitution.

Mustard Greens As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Mustard greens include all the leafy greens in the mustard family (such as collard greens). Broad-leaf mustard greens have smooth leaves that grow in heads and are usually savory, mustardy, and sweet. Curled mustards are spicy and hot, while leaf mustards, with pinked edges, are common and mild.

Any mustard leaves can be eaten instead of Swiss chard, but be aware that their flavor is much more peppery and spicy than Swiss chard, and their leaves have a tougher texture – as with collard greens or kale.

Best Uses For Mustard Greens Instead of Swiss Chard

  • If you need a green vegetable, you can substitute mustard greens for chard, but try to include some milder greens for balance. Serve mustard greens boiled or braised for eight to ten minutes.
  • Baby mustard green leaves can replace Swiss chard leaves in a salad – again, you may want to use fewer mustard greens because of their bite.
  • Add mustard greens to Asian dishes instead of Swiss chard – their strong taste can stand up to the vibrant flavors of garlic, ginger, and soy.

Black Kale As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Cavolo nero or black kale is a cabbage or brassica family member with very dark, narrow, ruffled leaves. Unlike regular kale, this Italian kale has tender leaves and a slightly peppery flavor.

Cavolo nero cooks more quickly than Swiss chard, wilting even more quickly than this tender-leafed vegetable. However, you’ll have to remove its rigid central core and shred the leaves before cooking.

Best Uses For Black Kale Instead of Swiss Chard

  • Sautéed black kale will be a good substitute for chard.
  • Add black kale to a soup instead of Swiss chard.
  • Substitute chard for black kale in baked pastas, like lasagne.

Kale As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

One of the most popular vegetables recently, kale has come to be loved by the health and wellness community for its nutritional value.

Kale is from the cabbage family and so has a somewhat different texture and flavor to chard and needs to be cooked for longer. However, if you enjoy a more robust tasting green, then kale is an excellent substitute.

To prepare kale, remove the hard central core and shred the leaves. This shredding helps the vegetable to cook consistently. The great advantage of kale is that it does not wilt as quickly as spinach or chard, so it retains texture in a dish.

Massaging the leaves is helpful to tenderize them, especially if you are using the leaves for salad. However, use kale sparingly in salads as the flavor and texture can be overpowering.

Best Uses For Kale Instead of Swiss Chard

  • Because of its texture, kale is a good substitute for chard in soups and casseroles.
  • Kale is a suitable replacement for chard in a curry because of its flavor and texture.
  • Kale is delicious, roasted, and braised.

Broccoli Raab As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Broccoli raab, rapini, or rabe is a leafy green vegetable of the broccoli family, and therefore really good for you, filled with vitamins and calcium.

Like chard, you can eat the leaves and stems of rapini. It also has a similar bitter taste to chard, with the crunch and zest of broccoli.

However, you can’t eat broccoli raab raw – it is too bitter and chewy. It would be best to trim the stems thoroughly as they get fibrous and tough as they get older.

Best Uses For Broccoli Raab Instead of Swiss Chard

  • If you plan to make a creamed chard dish, broccoli raab is a good substitute as it cooks down well and pairs with cream and lemon.
  • Add finely chopped broccoli raab to a frittata instead of chard.
  • Use broccoli raab in a gratin, especially one that includes fennel.

Escarole As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Escarole looks like a frilly, pale green lettuce but is a kind of chicory or endive. The vegetable is similarly leafy and slightly bitter like chard, so it makes a suitable replacement.

Although escarole can be eaten cooked, the tender inner leaves are delicious in a salad.

Best Uses For Escarole Instead of Swiss Chard

  • Substitute escarole for Swiss chard if you are making a salad of bitter and flavorsome leaves.
  • Like chard, escarole pairs well with fish, so use it as a side veggie.

Arugula As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Arugula is an excellent substitute for those who enjoy the crunch of chard but enjoy more spice and bitterness.

A kind of lettuce, arugula is also known as rocket and Italian cress and is best served raw.

Best Uses For Arugula Instead of Swiss Chard

  • Use arugula instead of baby Swiss chard leaves in a salad.
  • Toss arugula leaves over a fresh pizza for crunch, freshness, and pepperiness.

Dandelion Greens As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Probably more commonly eaten in Europe, especially Italy, than the States, dandelion greens are an example of the foraging trend where you pick your own wild food. Just a word of caution – if you plan to pick your own, make sure that they have not been sprayed with weedkiller or been in a dog park.

You can buy dandelion leaves at farmers’ markets and health stores – they are regarded as a health food as they are higher in iron than spinach and have anti-inflammatory properties.

With dark, narrow leaves, dandelions have a very bitter, peppery flavor, similar to arugula. These wild leaves cook quickly, rather like spinach, and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Best Uses For Dandelion Leaves Instead of Swiss Chard

  • Because of their assertive bitterness, use dandelion leaves sparingly in a salad – you’ll want to balance them with milder leaves.
  • Toss dandelion leaves through pasta instead of chard – they pair well with strong cheeses like parmesan.
  • Dandelions brighten up plain bean dishes, like soups.

Celery As A Substitute For Swiss Chard

Part of the parsley and carrot family, celery may seem an unlikely substitute for chard, not having the large leaves you’d want in a substitute. However, celery is a replacement for the stem, not the chard leaves.

As a replacement, celery has all the crunch and nutrition of chard stems but less flavor, so you’ll want to season a little more.

Remember that Swiss chard stems are best eaten cooked, so you can’t substitute the other way – chard stems aren’t a tasty salad ingredient or addition to a crudité dish.

Best Uses For Celery Instead of Swiss Chard

  • Braise chopped celery with butter and onions, even adding cream as you would for chard stems.
  • Add celery to stir-fries instead of chard stems.
  • Celery is a good soup addition if you don’t have chard – you can also add the celery leaves.
  • Make a cheesy gratin using celery instead of chard.

What Will You Choose Instead Of Swiss Chard?

Swiss chard is a highly nutritious leafy vegetable. It’s versatile and can be included in dishes from soups to salads and omelets to pasta. The best substitute for chard is spinach, but you could also use beet greens, mustard greens, collard greens, bok choy, kale, escarole, dandelion leaves, and even celery successfully.

Similar Posts