Baby Green Swiss Chard
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Baby Green Swiss chard are small delicate leaves that resemble baby spinach, a member of the same family. The petite, slightly elongated oval leaves have delicate young stems that have not yet developed into the large succulent white stalks that mature Swiss chard is known for. They lack the developed bitterness and earthiness that makes chard varieties unfavorable to many palates. The mildly sweet flavor is spinach-like and slightly earthy with a sweet nutty finish.
Baby Green Swiss chard is available year-round.
Baby Green Swiss chard are the young immature leaves of Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla var. Flavescens, a member of the beet family. The young green leaves are generally of the Fordhook Giant or Bionda di Lyon seed varieties, two fast growing cultivars known for their buttery flavor and texture, especially when harvested young. Swiss chard carries traces of geosmin, which is a volatile molecule displaying a wet-earth and woody aroma. Young immature plants carry less powerful geosmin aromatics as less contact with the earth may be directly related to the geosmin presence.
Chard is known to be a nutritional powerhouse vegetable packed with vitamins, nutrients and health benefits. Baby Green Swiss chard contains high levels of vitamins C, K, E, beta-carotene, calcium and the minerals manganese and zinc.
Baby Green Swiss chard can be used in any recipe calling for spinach or kale, especially in the raw form and is often found in salad mixes for an added sweet earthy flavor. Though raw garnishes and salad mixes are the perfect opportunity to showcase Baby Green Swiss chard's texture and flavor, it may also be cooked with other greens such as mustard, arugula, chicories, spinach, red and green lettuces. It is best only lightly sauteed or wilted with olive oil, if cooked at all. Pair with flavors such as, poultry, pork, cream, melting, aged and blue cheeses, butter, eggs, olive oil avocados, nuts, citrus, mango, chiles, garlic, shelling beans, farro, sausages, bacon, mushrooms, ginger, fennel and shallots.
The word "Swiss" was used to distinguish chard from cardoon, or artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) in French seed catalogs. Apparently the seeds of both plants were sold under the same names, and the “Swiss” moniker stuck, becoming a universal label we know today.
As its genus, Beta vulgaris, suggests, chard is, in fact, a beet that has been chosen for leaf production at the expense of root formation. All chard varieties are descendants of the sea beet (B. maritima), a wild seashore plant found growing along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Europe and North Africa. Through mutation and selective breeding, varieties have been developed with widened leaf stalks, milder flavor, soil adaptability and disease resistance. Baby leaves are harvested from the tender inner heart where flavors are sweetest and textures are most delicate.
Recipes that include Baby Green Swiss Chard. One is easiest, three is harder.