Cooking up Chard Stems at the Market

Here is a look at my new “office,” pretty nice, huh? Last Saturday was a beautiful day to cook at the market. Sunshine, live music, tons of people, and fresh produce. Now that strawberries and chard, preferably red chard with its bright red petioles, are in season, I chose to highlight them at last Saturday’s Cooking Salon. I decided to hit my Distinguished Guests with a bit of shock and awe by showing them that you can actually eat the stems of the chard which left them all mmm-mmming and quite speechless- speechless in a good way. The dish is fantastic and no more tossing those red nutrient rich stems away.

Also cooking in the Market has made me learn to adapt. I figured out how to cook a casserole, all in one pan, without an oven, which was serendipitous in teaching my Guests how to cook all summer long without having to heat an oven. No oven, equals cool kitchen. Yay! One pan, equals less…well you know.

The trick to getting a crispy topping on your casserole without an oven…make the topping first.

How to Make Chard Stems Casserole Without an Oven Using One Pan. That’s a long title, so how ’bout this one…

Chard Stems with Red Onions and Crispy Bread Topping– adapted from Vegetables Every Day
2-3 cups bread torn, day old is best- I tore mine big and rustic!
2 T. olive oil
2 T. unsalted butter
Kosher Salt to taste

12 large chard stems, one inch slices
water to cover

2 red onions, diced
pinch sugar
2-3 T. olive oil
1/2-2/3 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil and butter until butter is melted and starting to bubble. Add bread crumbs, stirring to coat all of them in butter mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. Cook while stirring occasionally until golden brown and toasted. Watch closely as this can burn easily. Remove croutons to a plate.

In the same skillet, over high heat, add stems and just enough water to cover them. Boil 8 minutes. Do not worry if there is water still in the pan at this point, it will cook off, plus you do not want to throw that nutrient rich water away. To the same pan over medium heat, add olive oil and onions, a pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions have a nice golden brown color and are tender. Stir in cream, and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with croutons. Serve immediately. Serves about 4. Also nice over pasta, rice, or cannellini beans. Or before adding the croutons, make four small wells and crack eggs into them, cooking the eggs to your favored doneness then top with croutons.

Notes on chard stems.
1. They must be boiled to tenderize. I have tried sauteing them without first boiling and they get even tougher.

2. Stems alone taste a bit like asparagus but readily adopt the flavors of ingredients they are cooked with while remaining toothsome and colorful.

3. Two meals from one bunch of chard can be done by sauteing up the greens one day in olive oil with salt, pepper, and garlic, then the next having this Chard Stem recipe. No waste.

More about my Cooking Salon go here.


  1. Big Dude
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 6:27 AM | Permalink

    Office looks darn good to me. After trying the stem saute once, I've been tossing them – good tip on boiling – I'll give it a try.

  2. Coconut
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    Now that is my kind of office!

    What a perfect location for the market, and for your cooking salon.

    Love this recipe, and I'll be trying it at some point.

    Thanks, too, for sharing photographs of your market experience.

    Wishing you continued success with the salon, the market, and all things Robin/Big Red Kitchen.

  3. highplainsdrifters
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

    You had me at "one pan."

  4. FOODalogue
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

    Nice recipe Robin. I'll have to try this one day.

    Like your open-air office too!

  5. Catherine
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

    Dear Robin, I just found your blog and I love it, even the title. I like the way you explain a recipe. I feel like I can hear you talking. Well, I do like the, no bake chard casserole recipe, and will try it. I hope that you will give my blog a look and follow it you like it. Thank you and blessings, Catherine

  6. A Year on the Grill
    Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

    And to think I knew you when…

    Was watching The Waltons reruns today (I am older than dirt), and low and behold, a new movie star was born!!!

    Congrats on the publicity for the business, and the gig as spokesperson!!!

  7. Neil Butterfield
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 9:17 AM | Permalink

    looks like you can really enjoy working in your office.

  8. Biz
    Posted May 30, 2011 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

    You look right at home there Robin! Still wishing I lived remotely close to you – I would love to be one of your distinquished guests! 😀

  9. Miri Leigh
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 12:40 AM | Permalink

    Looks like the best office possible 🙂 And can't wait to try out the recipe!

  10. Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    Great idea, I am always wondering what to do with those stems! Your new place looks great! 🙂

  11. Karen
    Posted June 4, 2011 at 9:29 PM | Permalink

    I've never had chard… will have to try it!

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