Chard is a leafy green vegetable that is typically available with both leaves and stalks. The leaves can be used like spinach, but need to be cooked slightly longer; the stalks are similar to celery or asparagus, depending on the variety. Rainbow chard is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of dishes.
Separate leaves and stalk. Starting at the base, run a sharp knife along one edge of the chard stalk to strip the leaves away. Repeat on the opposite side; you should end up with leaves and bare stalks. Repeat for as many pieces of chard as you need for the recipe you're following.
Chop. Line up bare stalks side to side and chop into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces. Chop leaves into small pieces.
Saute the stalks. Melt butter or oil in a saute pan at medium heat. Add the stalks. Stir slowly but constantly for two to three minutes or until the stalks are slightly browned. If desired, add salt, paprika, garlic or lemon juice for flavor, or other ingredients as called for by the recipe.
Saute or steam leaves. Once stalks are lightly browned, the chopped leaves can be added for an additional six to seven minutes, or until slightly shrunken. Alternately, the leaves can remain separate and be lightly steamed.
Chard can be used to add flavor, texture and nutrition in just about any way you would use spinach. This includes a wide variety of pasta dishes, including pesto. It can also be included as part of a stir-fry or eaten separately as a side. Not all recipes will call for using the stalks, but they are a delicious and nutritious part of the plant.
Be sure to rinse your chard before preparing to remove dirt and other impurities.