Did you know that Swiss chard is two vegetables in one? You're probably very comfortable using the leafy part of the green, but if you're throwing the stems away, you're losing a major part of this vegetable.
I use the stems in soups or quiches and treat the stems like celery when cooking them - they benefit from a little extra time in the pan and should be cut the short way into thin slices, to reduce stringiness.
Another way to use these stems is in a quick pickle:
Pickled Chard Stems
Adapted from a recipe by Peter Meehan and the chefs at Gramercy Tavern
Yields about 1 pint
- The stems from 1 bunch of Swiss chard
- 1 thyme sprig
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 cups rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- pinch each of fennel seed, peppercorns, mustard seed
- couple slices of beet, if desired (it adds a rosy color to the pickle)
Cut the chard stems into even lengths, cutting any really thick stems in half lengthwise as well. Put the stems and the thyme sprig into a heat safe jar that just holds the stems (I used a quart canning jar, but should have used a pint jar).
Bring the water, sugar, salt, spices and beet to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the hot brine into the canning jar: it should cover the stems completely. If not, boil up a little more brine to have enough to cover them.
Let the pickles cool and then refrigerate.