Best Substitutes For Swiss Chard
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Swiss chard is a vegetable of the beetroot family, with large, ruffled leaves and white stems. It’s common in Europe and Australia but not so much in the US. If you can’t find Swiss chard locally but have a recipe that calls for it, what’s a good substitute?
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.
Table of Contents
- What Is Swiss Chard?
- Beet Greens As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Spinach As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Bok Choy As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Collard Greens As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Mustard Greens As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Black Kale As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Kale As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Escarole As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Arugula As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Dandelion Greens As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Best Uses For Dandelion Leaves Instead of Swiss Chard
- Broccoli Raab As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- Celery As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
- What Will You Choose Instead Of Swiss Chard?
What Is Swiss Chard?
Swiss chard is also called 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 and 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 referred to as Rainbow chard. However, the vivid color of the leaves and stems is deceptive as the flavor of Swiss chard is quite delicate, and slightly bitter, while baby Swiss chard is mild enough to be eaten raw.
You can steam, wilt, sautée, microwave, or braise the leaves. They are also delicious in savory tarts, quiches, or pasta fillings. And 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 seem the ideal substitute for Swiss chard. However, beet greens have a more robust and slightly bitter flavor. They also have a more fibrous texture.
Unlike chard, beetroot stems are not edible and must be removed before eating. Remember also that beet leaves can bleed during cooking, so skip these if you don’t want a green-colored dish.
You can replace Swiss chard with the same amount of beet leaves, but you’ll need a slightly longer cooking time due to their coarser texture.
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 an ideal substitute for Swiss chard. Both are similarly leafy and wilt quickly when exposed to heat.
You can replace Swiss chard in a recipe with equal amounts of spinach, either mature spinach or baby spinach. 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, 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 a member of the cabbage family, bok choy is a good substitute for Swiss chard because of its tender leaves and delicate, nutty flavor. This Asian vegetable’s milder flavor makes it a good choice if you have youngsters who don’t like the bitter taste 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.
- 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. A member of the mustard family, their flavor is 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. Skip collard greens for dishes like quiche or ravioli stuffing.
Prepare collard greens by discarding the tough stalks and chopping the green leaves into strips so 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 chiliso that you can season these greens more strongly than 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, like baba ghanoush.
Mustard Greens As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
Mustard greens include all the leafy greens in the mustard family (including collard greens) but are usually labeled as just “mustard greens.” Broad-leaf mustard greens have smooth leaves that grow in heads and are generally 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.
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. It has dark, narrow, ruffled leaves that are exceptionally tender with a slightly peppery flavor, unlike regular kale.
Cavolo nero cooks more quickly than Swiss chard, wilting even more rapidly. Before using, remove its rigid central core and shred the leaves before cooking.
Best Uses For Black Kale Instead of Swiss Chard
- Sautéed black kalewill be a good substitute for chard.
- Add black kale to a soupinstead of Swiss chard.
- Substitute chard for black kale in baked pasta dishes.
Kale As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
Kale is from the cabbage family and has a somewhat different texture and flavor than chard. It’s an excellent substitute if you enjoy a more robust tasting green.
To prepare kale, remove the hard central core and shred the leaves. This shredding helps the vegetable to cook consistently and quickly. The great advantage of kale is that it does not wilt as fast as spinach or chard, adding texture to a dish.
Massaging the leaves helps 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.
Escarole As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
Escarole looks like a frilly, pale green lettuce. The vegetable is similarly leafy and slightly bitter like chard, making it a suitable replacement.
If using it in a baked dish or as a side, blanch the escarole for a minute in boiling water to reduce bitterness. Drain thoroughly. Escarole on its own makes a delicious salad.
Best Uses For Escarole Instead of Swiss Chard
- Substitute escarole for Swiss chard in salads and enjoy these slightly bitter and flavorsome leaves.
- Like chard, escarole pairs well with fish, so use it as a side.
Arugula As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
A kind of lettuce, arugula is also known as rocket and Italian cress. Known for its spicy flavor, it’s best served raw (in salads) but can be used in cooked dishes.
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
Dandelion greens are more commonly eaten in Europe than in the States. You can buy dandelion leaves at farmers’ markets and health stores. Or, if you don’t treat your lawn, you can pick the leaves from plants in your yard. Pick before the dandelions flower; otherwise, they’ll be too tough. And clean thoroughly!
With dark, narrow leaves, dandelions have a very bitter, peppery flavor, similar to arugula. They cook quickly and can be eaten raw or cooked.
Best Uses For Dandelion Leaves Instead of Swiss Chard
- If you’re not a fan of dandelion’s bitterness, use it sparingly in a salad. Otherwise, toss with olive oil and a little salt.
- Toss dandelion leaves through pasta instead of chard – they pair well with strong cheeses like parmesan.
- Dandelions brighten up plain bean dishes, like soups.
Broccoli Raab As A Substitute For Swiss Chard
Broccoli raab, rapini, or rabe is a leafy green vegetable of the broccoli family, filled with vitamins and calcium. It’s much more bitter and sturdier than chard. Roughly chop rapini, then blanch before using. This will help remove some of the bitterness and allow for faster cooking time. Broccoli Raab is generally not served raw.
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.
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 leavesyou’d want in a substitute. 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 like celery is.
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.
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