What to Do with an Overload of Chard

August  8, 2014

It's the season of overflowing market bags, heavy CSA boxes, and gardens run amok. Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra Cooks is showing us how to store, prep, and make the most of the bounty, without wasting a scrap.

Today: Learn how to prep and use (lots of) Swiss chard -- a savory slab galette with Gruyère is a great place to start.

Savory Slab Galette with Chard and Gruyere

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A gardener’s dream, a farm stand beacon, a CSA staple -- chard is the reliable friend among the dark leafy greens, seemingly there at every turn, undemanding of time and attention, capable of adapting in every which way. And while it hasn’t quite achieved the celebrity status of kale, its versatility has long been celebrated throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East.

In the U.S., chard grows year-round in California and in much of the South, but in cooler regions, its season stretches from late spring to late fall. It belongs to the same family as beets and spinach, and its sturdy leaves and sharp flavor allow it to assume countless forms, from stratas and gratins to gnudi and fritters to pasta and lasagna.

Swiss Chard

This time of year, it’s hard not to focus solely on the local corn and tomatoes slowly making their way to market, but Swiss chard, too, can taste surprisingly summery. And although chard most often benefits from being cooked, it too can be eaten raw, finely chopped and dressed with lemon, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan. This preparation perhaps best highlights chard's versatility, its ability to adapt to every season. And I suspect that once the world embraces raw chard, kale’s reign might at last see its end.

A quick sauté with onions and garlic will strip away any mineral flavors, soften its ruffled leaves and rainbow ribs, and draw out its sweetness. Sautéed chard makes a lovely side dish on its own, but it also can be stirred into pastas, layered into gratins, or spread across a buttery cornmeal dough and baked into a savory Gruyère-topped galette, as I've done below. Served warm or at room temperature aside a light green salad, this slab galette will feed a crowd, and in the process free your fridge of those cumbersome bundles monopolizing prime realty.

  slab galette dough

Galette dough  chard galette

More: Learn all about dark leafy greens.

To store and prep your chard:

  • Remove any elastic bands and store chard in a bag in your fridge. Chard’s length makes it awkward to store (sometimes the fridge door shelves work well). If space is an issue, you can separate the leaves from the stalks before storing.

  • Keep chard away from the coldest spots in your fridge -- when the leaves get too cold, they turn black and wither.

  • To clean, soak the chard in a large bowl of cold water for at least five minutes to allow the dirt to settle. If you are going to eat it raw, spin it dry; otherwise, just give it a shake or allow it to drain in a colander. A little water will help the chard steam a bit when you cook it.

  • Because each cooks at a different rate, you'll need to separate the stems and leaves: With one hand, grasp the leaves where they meet the stem, grasp the stem with the other hand, and gently pull the stem away from the leaves.

  • Chard will keep well in the fridge for about a week. Revive tired-looking leaves in a bowl of cold water with a splash of vinegar. After 20 minutes or so, the leaves should perk up.

Swiss Chard Stems

More ideas for cooking your chard:

  • If you’re lucky enough to find very tender chard, it can be eaten raw and, like kale, can handle a hardy dressing.

  • Raw chard can also be added directly to soups and stews or thrown in a quiche: For a quiche baked in standard 9- or 10-inch pie plate or tart pan, coarsely chop a cup of chard and add it directly to the custard.
  • Chard is delicious simply sautéed with olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Sauté sliced onions with chopped chard stems until tender, add garlic and pepper flakes, then add chopped greens and a pinch of salt to the pan. Cover the pan for a few minutes to allow the leaves to wilt, then uncover and allow any liquid to cook off. Finish with a squeeze of lemon or splash of vinegar. This makes a nice side dish, or can be added to pasta, lasagna, strata, etc. To spruce up sautéed chard, add sautéed apples, toasted pine nuts, and raisins, Catalan-style.

Swiss Chard Sauteed

  • For a classic dish of greens and beans, add a cup or two of cooked cannellini beans to sautéed chard, along with a splash of the bean cooking liquid.

  • Blanch it, squeeze it dry, and turn it into flavored pasta, gnudi, or fillings for ravioli and cannelloni. Or whiz blanched chard with eggs, flour, herbs, and cheese and fry it into a fritter.

  • Like cabbage, chard can be parboiled, stuffed with meat or vegetable fillings, and steamed in broth or tomato sauce.

  • Purée it with nuts, cheese, garlic, and olive oil to make a pesto.

  • Bake it into stratas and panades.

More: Chard stems can even be pickled for a crunchy snack.

Galette with Swiss Chard and Gruyere Recipe

Slab Galette with Swiss Chard and Gruyère

Makes 24 slices

For the galette:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion
Salt to taste
2 cloves garlic
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 bunches Swiss chard, stems removed (about 500 grams, post-stemming)
1 batch of Cornmeal Galette Dough
1 cup fresh ricotta
1 cup grated Gruyère or Comté
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon milk or cream

For the cornmeal galette dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup ice water

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Galette with Swiss Chard and Gruyere Recipe

Photos by Alexandra Stafford

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I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.


kzmccaff April 16, 2015
This was such a helpful post! I got a bunch of chard in my CSA on Tuesday and came right here. As a single gal, I took your advice to saute it with onions, garlic, and red peppers. Had it as sauteed greens last night and am going to make a bruschetta with the leftovers tonight!
kzmccaff April 16, 2015
(I should say, as a single girl meaning I could never eat that whole galette, although that wouldn't stop me from trying, ha!, I wanted something a little more manageable).
Alexandra S. April 16, 2015
Haha, I love it. Well then you chose wisely. And I love greens on toast, so your bruschetta sounds lovely!
enthous August 14, 2014
I ran out and bought two large bunches of chard to try this. The only diversion from the recipe I took was to add a splash of white balsamic vinegar to the chard sauté. It was delicious. However, the dough was really unmanageable; much too soft. I'm an experienced cook and have made uncountable amounts of pastry over the years; I measured by weight, not volume, so I'm pretty sure of the accuracy. I was concerned when adding the liquids, as it seemed like an awful lot, but I had faith and dumped it in. The idea of "flipping" the dough after it was thinner than 1/2" was laughable. I must have added at least another 1/2 cup of flour during rolling and still found it impossible to get to the pan as a sheet of dough. The good news is it was fairly easy to press and pat it into place in the pan and it still wasn't tough when baked. Next time I plan on cutting out some liquid or refrigerating it much longer, possibly both. I also didn't get 500 grams of leaves from my two large bunches, so I would like more greens, but it was still good. Those of you with garden chard won't have that problem. It's also delicious at room temperature, which is nice because it makes a huge amount and we had lots of leftovers.
Alexandra S. August 23, 2014
Just want to make sure you saw my response to your comment in the full recipe post -- just realized this was posted twice.
The U. August 12, 2014
Thanks so much for a great looking recipe! We've replaced our spinach patch with chard as we find it much easier to grow in our area. The gold finches LOVE it but we've planted enough to share. Another GREAT thing about chard is in zone 5b (assuming no polar vortex) if you leave the crown in the Fall, you'll get chard in the Spring ~ at least enough until your new chard grows!
Alexandra S. August 12, 2014
Awesome! I think I'm 5b ... novice gardener here. Just looked at a map and my little town, Niskayuna (near Albany/Schenectady, NY), seems to fall in the 5b zone. Exciting! Is leaving the crown as self explanatory as it sounds? Great tip! Thank you.
The U. August 14, 2014
We have found chard very easy to grow! The crown is considered the base of the plant from which the leaves grow. Every Spring except this past one, we've gotten new chard leaves from the previous years plant. I think the consistent cold winter we had here in the Midwest was just too much for the chard to survive this past winter. I plant new seeds every year but always have chard from the old plant to get me by until the new stuff grows. Good luck!
Susan August 9, 2014
This is a good year for chard in my garden too, and I can't wait to try this galette. It looks amazing. Folks with an over abundance should know that chard freezes beautifully. Wash, chop coarsely if desired, blanch for 2 mins, cool quickly in ice water, drain, package, and freeze. Then you can have a galette in January too. :-)
Alexandra S. August 9, 2014
Ahh, yes, thank you for mentioning this! I have to admit, I am not the best freezer, but I need to get better about it, especially this time of year. I am not a good gardener, but my chard has been so good to me this summer, too. And, I've been meaning to try my mother's recipe for spanakopita with chard. That will be such a treat in January :) Thank you!
K B. August 8, 2014
Funny story but I pinned the picture of this chard galette from food52 this morning and I thought to myself 'I will try this recipe this weekend and see how it compares to the galette from Alexandra Cooks'. I just clicked the link and lo and behold it IS your recipe! haha Anyway, I love your recipes and learn so much from your blog. Your posts are always so well-written, warm and readable. Excited to try this recipe!
Alexandra S. August 8, 2014
Oh, thank you so much, K b, that means so much to me. That David Lebovitz cornmeal galette dough is so good. I had never made a savory galette before trying that recipe, and now it's one of my favorite vegetarian meals to prepare — so versatile and forgiving. Anyway, I hope you like it! And thank you again for your kind words.
ChefJune August 8, 2014
D*mn, Alexandra! That looks and sounds delicious. Quite a lot like my Broccoli Rabe Pissaladiere. :) Have you tried this Swiss Chard Tart?
Alexandra S. August 8, 2014
That looks Amazing, June! I am definitely going to try that soon — it will be perfect this fall and winter. Your broccoli rabe pissaladiere sounds and looks fantastic, too. Thanks!