How to Make a Swiss Chard Salad

French Swiss Chard Salad. Photo by Richard Swearinger

French Swiss Chard Salad. Photo by my pal Richard Swearinger

Although Swiss Chard is available year-round, it comes into peak season both in the spring and the fall—and I’m seeing all over the place. Take advantage! It’s a great veggie, with sturdy and crinkled emerald-green leaves and stalks in a rainbow of colors. Its flavor crosses spinach with a subtle taste of beets–so if you love beets, but don’t really feel like peeling and boiling them, Swiss Chard is for you.

Here’s my recipe for a sparkling Swiss Chard Salad, plus a little story about how I discovered this dark leafy green.

Chicken, Swiss Chard, Apples, Blue Cheese, Pistachios—a fabulous salad for right now.

Chicken, Swiss Chard, Apples, Blue Cheese, Pistachios—a fabulous salad for right now.

How to Make a Swiss Chard Salad

First, here’s my easy recipe for Swiss Chard Salad. By the way, one of my readers on my facebook page said that she omitted the chicken for a side-dish salad, and it was great. If doing that, I might add more blue cheese!

PS: Can you remember the first time you ever had Swiss Chard? I sure can (see my little story after the recipe).

French Swiss Chard Salad with Chicken, Apples, Blue Cheese, and Pistachios
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing the chicken
  • 4 ounces Swiss chard leaves, coarsely shredded (discard tough stem ends)
  • 1 large sweet-tart red apple, such as a Honeycrisp or Braeburn, cored, and
  • sliced
  • ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese, such as Point Reyes or Roquefort
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachio nuts
  • 1½ tablespoons Balsamic Vinetar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and brush them lightly with olive oil. Place the chicken breasts in a shallow baking dish and bake until the internal temperature registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the Swiss chard, apple, blue cheese, and pistachio nuts in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  4. Using two forks, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Add the chicken to the chard mixture and toss to combine. Add the vinaigrette and toss again to combine. Divide the salad among four shallow bowls and serve.

My Swiss Chard Discovery

In May of 1998, Dave and I flew into Toulouse; our plan was to tool around the Southwest of France before heading to our rental apartment, reserved for the month of June, in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, on the French Rivieria.

We had a lovely time in the Southwest, but as we made our way east, we both came down with major head colds. Worse still, the forecast was for rain throughout Provence and the Côte d’Azur. Less-than-enthused about tooling around in the rain, but with three days before we could get into our vacation rental, we looked for a place we could hole up and nurse our colds.

Sospel. A cozy mountain town and a fine place to hole up when you're feeling under the weather.

Sospel. A cozy mountain town and a fine place to hole up when you’re feeling under the weather. Photo credit.

We landed in Sospel, a rustic mountain town about 1 1/2 hours into the Maritime Alps from Nice. What we failed to realize was that it was a French bank-holiday weekend, and nearly every hotel in Sospel was booked….

AubergeProvencal

L’Auberge Provençal, Sospel. These days, gets great reviews on Trip Advisor. In 1998, it was an aging old inn, though spotless and charming.

 

….except an aging, down-at-the-heels Logis de France inn, located on a hill outside of town. We snapped up the last room, even though the room had no shower or toilet–just a bed, a desk and a sink. The toilet was down the hall. The shower? There was none available for our room. Not even down the hall. (Some other rooms that had showers, but those rooms were all booked.)

Dining Room at the Auberge de Provence, Sospel.

Dining Room at the Auberge de Provence, Sospel.

We thought we’d left the toilet-down-the-hall days behind when we finally tossed the Europe on $20 a Day guide we used in our post-college backpacking trip in the 80s.

Still, we had no choice but to take the room for three nights.

As it turns out, the charming inn had just what we needed: A comfy bed, with reading lamps on each side, and crisp and clean sheets underneath fluffy comforters. We spent three days recuperating, reading books and taking naps while it drizzled continually outside. We’d drink hot, soothing tea and tisanes that we’d take turns fetching from the dining room downstairs. Our little room had a view of Sospel out our window down the hill; it was one of the coziest three days we’ve spent in Europe. I can hardly remember being sick.

On the first floor of the inn was a dining room that was oddly stately for such a run-down hotel. The restaurant’s menu offered the kind of simple, rustic food that remote France does so well. According to my diary, the choices for the first course included mortadella (yes–just a few slices of mortadella with bread and butter), a trio of salads (aka crudités–a beet salad, a carrot salad, and celeri remoulade), a soup of the day, and something called tarte de blettes.

Every time I make my Swiss Chard Tart (above), I think of cozy old Sospel.

Every time I make my Swiss Chard Tart (above), I think of cozy old Sospel.

The patronne explained to me that the latter was a little like quiche. But she couldn’t really tell me what blettes were.

I ordered the dish, which was indeed quiche-like: a buttery crust topped with a dense tangle of sauteed greens held together by an egg and cheese filling. It was more about the greens and the buttery crust than the egg–which seemed mostly a binder.

I was immediately smitten with the vegetable–the flavor of the green was reminiscent of spinach, but  deeper and slightly bitter. For three days, we ate dinner at the hotel, and chard must have been in season: I ended up enjoying something that had chard in it for all three meals–including a sort of minestrone soup with chard in it and a luscious side dish of creamed chard.

Monday rolled around; the sun came out and we felt infinitely better. We headed to Beaulieu, with a newfound appreciation of Sospel. And Swiss Chard.

Wherever you happen to be, give this leafy green a try–and let me know if you like it as much as I do.

From rainy Sospel to sunny Beaulieu, but with a new-found appreciation for Swiss Chard.

From rainy Sospel to sunny Beaulieu, but with a new-found appreciation for Swiss Chard.

If you enjoyed this mini-travel story, you might enjoy a few others:

Where to Stay on the Riviera: Might I Suggest Menton?

Learning to Love Where You’ve Landed (a story about not loving, then loving Montpellier)

Things I Miss Most about French Food and Dining

• What to Cook in a Small French Kitchen

• My Kind of Wine and My Kind of Town: Chinon

 

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4 × = thirty six

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