If you don’t know what Swiss chard is and you’re on a search for its possible substitute, you’re in for a treat!
Considered a staple in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine, Swiss chard is a tender succulent and flavorful vegetable that’s easily recognizable for its brightly colored stalk and dark green leaves.
Both leaves and stalks are edible: the young leaves can be eaten raw in salads while the older leaves and stalks are generally served cooked.
True, it’s delicious and versatile but let’s be real: not everyone is a fan of this veggie and it’s a bit pricier than other greens.
If you’re wondering how to replace Swiss chard in a recipe without compromising the taste of your meal, here are six of the best Swiss chard substitutes you can rely on!
What is swiss chard
Swiss chard—or simply “chard”—is a rippled or smooth-leafed vegetable that’s a member of the leafy green family alongside kale, spinach, and collard greens.
Easy to grow and able to withstand both cold and hot temperatures, Swiss chard is notable for its tender leaves and bright, colorful stalks.
However, the vegetable will taste better when it’s grown in cold weather.
You can plant Swiss chard in spring and in late summer, the greens will be ready for harvesting about 55 days after planting the seeds.
Despite its name, Swiss chard doesn’t originate in Switzerland but a theory says that a Swiss botanist was responsible for the name of the vegetable.
Moreover, the flavor profile of mature Swiss chard leaves has a bitter aftertaste when eaten raw, but eventually turns mild and sweet when you cook them.
Meanwhile, young leaves are commonly tossed in salads as they have a milder taste than those older leaves and stalks.
The stalks and leaves are all edible, meaning you can use them in your recipes.
Swiss chard can be included in salads, pizzas, pasta dishes, risotto, quiches, and sandwiches.
The vegetable is great for boiling, steaming, sauteing, and roasting too!
A close relative of the beet, Swiss chard is also known as white beet, strawberry spinach, sea kale beet, leaf beet, Sicilian beet, spinach beet, Chilean beet, Roman kale, and silverbeet.
What does swiss chard taste like?
The flavor profile of Swiss chard depends on whether the vegetable is young, matured, raw or cooked.
Typically, young Swiss chard has a mild taste but over time this flavor changes, becoming more bitter.
The bitterness of the older leaves and stalks only disappear when cooked, which usually has a similar mild and sweet flavor to spinach.
How is Swiss chard used?
Swiss chard isn’t just known for its tenderness and nice flavor profile, the vegetable can be also used to add a pop of color to your recipes.
If you don’t know how to utilize this leafy vegetable, here are some fun and great uses for Swiss chard.
- Use sauteed Swiss chard to add extra texture and flavor to Caesar salad.
- Toss in chopped Swiss chard to your stir-fries, soups, and omelets.
- Use the leaves as a substitute for tortilla wraps.
- Elevate your pasta dishes with Swiss chard.
- Pickle Swiss chard stalks with shallots, sugar, and rice vinegar.
Fun tip: Use your colorful Swiss chard to adorn your home on special occasions. Put them in a vase or bouquet with flowers.
Swiss chard substitutes and how to use them
If you don’t have Swiss chard in your vegetable rack or simply have a picky eater in your family, here are some alternatives you can use instead—look closely, as you may already have these replacements in your kitchen.
1. Beet greens
Dark leafy greens are quite similar to Swiss chard when it comes to appearance.
Though the vegetable has a creamy and nutty flavor when cooked, beet greens have crispy leaves, making it a great substitute for the chard.
If you’re running out of Swiss chard for your salads and stir-fries, then beet green should do the trick!
2. Mature spinach
Another Swiss chard substitute you can rely on when your leafy vegetable is missing in action is the mature spinach.
Mature spinach tastes quite mild and has a dark green color and crispy texture that’s similar to Swiss chard.
If your recipe calls for young Swiss stalks and leaves, you can use baby spinach instead as the two vegetables have the same tenderness and slightly sweet flavor.
3. Mustard greens
Also known as brown mustard and Chinese mustard, mustard greens are notable for their sharp and bitter taste when eaten raw, which slightly matches the flavor profile of the chard.
Enjoyed boiled, steamed, and stir-fried, these leafy greens also have a green hue, making it a great chard substitute.
4. Collard greens
Collard greens are a type of vegetable that’s known for their bitter taste as well as tough and dark green leaves.
When cooked, the leaves of the greens soften and their flavor profile becomes mild, making them perfect to use as a Swiss chard replacement.
Similar to chard, collard green can be added to pasta, salads, and soups.
5. Black Tuscan or “Dinosaur” kale
Commonly referred to as lacinato kale, dinosaur kale, “black magic” kale and Italian black cabbage, black Tuscan kale is a native to the Mediterranean region.
The vegetable is popular for its sturdy central stalk, chewy texture, light, slightly peppery flavor, and crinkly leaves with colors ranging from dark greenish-purple to almost black.
It’s suitable for steaming, braising, fried, and sauteing.
6. Bok choy
Also dubbed as Chinese white cabbage, bok choy is an excellent Swiss chard replacement. This is because the vegetable has a celery-like stem, which is close to Swiss chard.
Also, the flavor profile of bok choy is mild with a barely-noticeable peppery taste.
The leaves of the vegetable are crunchy and sturdy enough to be included in soups, salads, stir-fries.
The bottom line
Obviously, there’s plenty of Swiss chard substitutes you can use in various recipes.
And what you choose to add to your recipe instead of the vegetable is actually up to your preference.
Whether you use bok choy, collard greens, or mature spinach, or one of our other options, consider which of these might be in season, and if a frozen option might work.
- Beet greens
- Mustard greens
- Black Tuscan “Dinosaur” kale
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Mature spinach
- Choose one of these alternatives to Swiss chard.
- Add the same amount that’s required for Swiss chard in the recipe.