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Creamed Swiss chard

Sat, 21 October, 2023

Swiss or rainbow chard cooked over low heat develops gorgeously deep flavour. Add cream and blast it under a grill with a coating of Parmesan for an unusually delicious side dish.

creamed swiss chard

Chard, spinach, beetroot

What do you think of when you hear ‘greens’ or ‘leafy greens’? I bet it’s kale, my pet hate in the vegetable world. It might be nutritious but no one is going to convince me it tastes nice, however you prepare it.

On the other hand, its dark green leafy vegetable relatives are as health-beneficial in your diet while also being tasty. I don’t know, but to me it’s a no brainer: why would you eat kale if you have spinach or chard?

Or, indeed, beetroot leaves. That’s one massive food waste example that I always lament: beetroot leaves are just as edible, tasty and nutritious as spinach or chard, yet they are always unceremoniously chucked at the market stalls, and supermarkets aren’t even aware of their existence.

The recipe below, like most recipes for spinach and chard, can be followed using beetroot leaves.

creamy chard

We want chard!

Beetroot leaves are an underdog but I’m really not certain why chard isn’t quite as popular as spinach.

In fact, what most people are unaware of, a common variety of spinach widely grown in home gardens, so called ‘perpetual spinach’, is actually a variety of chard.

That particular variety is just so close in taste and texture to spinach, it is indiscernible from it. It truly is a generous crop, growing back profusely the moment you pick a row clean, to the point that I usually curse it by the end of the season: oh no! Spinach needs picking again!

And the varieties of chard that look like chard, not spinach, are as delicious. The only thing that perhaps puts people off chard are the stems: rather tough, with most recipes instructing to strip leaves from the stems and cook the two separately. That’s hassle.

swiss chard

Hassle-free chard

But not in this instance! My creamed chard recipe is hassle-free: you just need to wash the leaves (and thoroughly, if you’ve grown it in your garden, as snails adore chard), then shred them, leaves together with stems.

With sliced shallots and finely chopped garlic sweated in butter, it will cook over low heat for almost an hour – to acquire wonderful flavour and velvety texture.

chopped chard

Cook your vegetables quickly?

You’ll think that a long cooking process will obliterate all the nutrients in poor chard, so the dish will not provide any health benefits? Not exactly.

True, vitamin C will perish, but as this method doesn’t involve boiling, and you’ll be eating the sauce that chard cooks in, other vitamins and nutrients won’t be discarded with cooking water.

Also, studies show that cooking vegetables makes the nutrients more accessible to absorb by human body, by breaking down tough fibres. And, in spinach and chard especially, more beta carotene is taken in when we eat cooked vs. raw leaves.

So we can happily prepare this fantastically tasty dish, safe in the knowledge it will be good for us as well.

creamed and crispy chard

How to prepare the tastiest chard

Once the shallots and garlic soften in the saucepan, you can start adding shredded chard in batches, as it won’t all fit in in one go, no matter how large the pan. But it wilts quickly, especially if you help it along by twisting it around the pan with tongs.

Once it’s all in and wilty-shrunk, sprinkle flour all over the leaves and stir it to be cooked off. A combination of milk and double cream can now be slowly poured in, but this is a simple cooking method – none of the constant stirring that is required in bechamel making.

When the liquid comes to a steady bubble, it’s time to turn the heat right down and simmer it for just under an hour, until the chard is wonderfully tender and the sauce nice and thick.

The final seasoning involves grated nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste and a spoonful of crème fraiche for a hint of a tang.

cooking creamed chard

The final blast

And that is now ready to serve, unless you want to make it extra-delicious, which of course you do.

long cooked creamy chard

Spoon the chard to an oven-to-table dish, sprinkle with Parmesan rather generously and give it a blast under hot grill. Which also means the dish can be prepared well in advance, then warmed up and blasted in the grill. Which is a good idea if you want to make it one of the holiday dinner sides, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Which you absolutely should!

creamed chard

More chard and spinach recipes

Rainbow chard sautéed with a hint of Asian flavours is incredibly tasty – and as nutritionally beneficial as any more common greens like spinach or kale.

How to cook spinach? Simply, with lots of butter and thinly sliced garlic. Buttered spinach is a perfect side dish, healthy and ready in minutes.

Oven baked spinach and mozzarella balls, coated in breadcrumbs. Healthy baked spinach and cheese balls go well with a steak as a side dish but also delicious as an appetizer.

More festive side recipes

Green bean casserole is so good when homemade and cooked from scratch! Creamy mushroom sauce is easy to make, while blanching then drying fresh green beans stops them from being soggy.

Dos and don'ts of making the best roast potatoes you have ever eaten. The ultimate golden, crispy roasties that make you forget about the roast beef.

Festive red cabbage stir fried with apples, raisins and spices, super quick to cook. Red cabbage can be cooked super quick and easy, and not only for Christmas.

creamy swiss chard

Creamed Swiss chard

Servings: 4Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 500g (over 1 pound) Swiss chard
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 45g (3 tbsp) butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 180ml (¾ cup) double cream
  • 60ml (¼ cup) whole milk
  • ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp crème fraiche
  • salt and black pepper
  • 30g (½ cup) grated Parmesan


1. Wash, drain and pat dry the chard. Shred it finely, discarding tough stem ends. Peel and finely dice the shallots, peel and finely chop the garlic.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened.

3. Add the chard in four batches, twisting and turning each batch with tongs until it wilts, before adding the next.

4. Sprinkle the flour and cook stirring until no more dry flour is visible. Slowly add the cream and milk, stirring, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to very low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 50 minutes, until the chard is completely soft and the sauce has thickened.

5. Stir in the nutmeg, crème fraiche and salt and black pepper to taste.

6. Preheat the oven grill to medium.

7. Transfer the chard to a shallow gratin dish, top with the Parmesan and grill for about 5 minutes until the cheese is browned and crusty.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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